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CALIBAN 



CALIBAN 



By 
W. L. GEORGE 

Author of 

"THE SECOND BLOOMING" 

"BLIND ALLEY" ETC. 




> i > 
■ . • . • 
j • • • ■ ' 



Publishers 

HARPER & BROTHERS 

New York and London 



• • • • • • 



Caliban 

Copyright, 1920, by Harper & Brothers 

Printed in the United States of America 

Published September, 1920 

G-u 






To 

JOSEPH CONRAD 

Dear Master, 

Even though you have given me leave to dedicate this booh to you, 
I should hesitate to do so if I did not feel that in such a case it is 
he who gives, not he who receives, that enjoys honor; seemliness 
suggests that I refrain from flattery; duty commands that I express 
my gratitude for the generosity with which you received my last 
novel, remained unbemused by the anger of the reactionaries and the 
artistic prejudice of the advanced. I will say only that you induced 
me to doubt myself a little less, and subscribe myself, dear Ma^er, 

Your sincere friend, 

W. L. GEORGE 



423868 



CONTENTS 



Part I 
GROPING 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. Winchester House 3 

II. A Family 11 

III. Definitions 20 

IV. "The Wykehamist" 28 

V- Prelude 37 

VI. Growing Up 45 



Part II 
INCIPIT VITA NOVA 

I. Running in Blank 57 

II. The Animosity of Mr. Wartle 66 

III. Zip 75 

IV. Vi 87 

V. A Kiss 100 

VI. The High Road 107 

VII. Scissors and Paste 121 

VIII. Hampstead 134 

IX. Lining Up 146 






°& CONTENTS 

Part III 
THE VORTEX 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. The ' 'Daily Gazette" 161 

II. Upper Brook Street 173 

III. Politics 184 

IV. Sisters and Others 192 

V. Full Swing 203 

VI. Affairs 212 

VII. Knight 225 

VIII. Baronet 235 

IX. Peer 249 

X. At Bargo Court 259 



Part IV 
WAY WITHOUT END 

I. Janet 273 

II. Cutting a Loss 290 

III. A Paragraph 300 

IV. War 313 

V. The Furies 323 

VI. Lord Immingham 334 

VII. Spate 341 

VIII. Proclamations 353 

IX. Ghosts 367 

X. Cruise of the "Gazetteer" 379 

XI. Power 389 

XII. Hullo, Life! 402 

XIII. Caliban 414 



Part I 
GROPING 



"/ see my way as birds their trackless way. 
I shall arrive — what time, what circuit first, 
I ask not. . . ." — PwObert Browning, Paracelsus. 



• - - - • 



CALIBAN 

Chapter I 
Winchester House 

A SHAFT of light fell through the class-room 
window on the round, bald head of old Chips. 
It looked red as the sun in fog; red as a guinea. 
Bulmer yawned over his Livy and stared at the 
beam, at the grains of dust dancing in it. He 
thought, "I wonder how many bits of dirt there 
are in that beam." It was an interesting specula- 
tion, and his mind, that was not at all stimulated 
by Latin prose, wandered toward the obscene bald- 
ness of old Chips. Then he reflected that Topsy, 
who did maths., science, and commerce, was also 
bald as any egg, while Clamart, the French master, 
and old Barnes, who took prep, and messed about, 
had splendid heads of hair. 

"Go on, Tarland," said Chips. "Take the torch 
from the fainting hand of your comrade. Ubi, in 
recensendis capiivis. Proceed, O Tarland." 

"There, while counting the prisoners . . ." stut- 
tered Tarland. Then again, "... were recognized 

as Tusculans ..." 

3 



* CALIBAN 



I l i r r i 

<b 



"Now," thought Bulmer, "both the bald ones are 
dark and both the hairy ones are fair. Do dark 
men go bald first?" He grew so absorbed in this 
problem, which ramified into the practical idea that 
he might interview a scientist about this, say, the 
chemist in Canterbury Road, that he started when 
old Chips suddenly bellowed: 

" Compelled! Laturus does not mean compelled. 
Was ever such a creature known in the Zoo at 
Regent's Park? Tarland, the vulpine dam of Romu- 
lus and Remus suckled you not! But let us draw a 
decent veil. Come, Selby." 

And Selby began to drone forth, construing in 
sudden bursts, obviously chancing it. Bulmer re- 
alized that it would be his turn next and, expelling 
outer-world preoccupations, strove to forecast the 
sentence where Selby would be stopped and he 
would have to start. The auguries were favorable, 
for Selby was lucky that morning. He reached the 
end of his allotted exercise without mishap, being 
subject only to the remark that if Livy had used 
the word "got" three times in six lines he would 
have been kicked down the steps of the Capitol. 
Now, Bulmer," said Chips, amiably. 
Captivis introductis in senatum, the prisoners 
having been brought into the Senate ..." began 
Bulmer, his bright-blue eyes looking doubtfully from 
under his brows. Ah! that was all right. And . . . 
O Lord! ma/tidassent que . . . did that mean that the 
Tusculans had been sent to Camillus or that Camilius 
had been sent to the Tusculans? It struck him 
that either way it ought to do, as the whole bally 

lot amounted to nothing at all. But it didn't do. 

4 



it 

tt 



% W INCHESTER HOUSE j* 

"Camillus sent! Sent?" roared Chips. " Widely 
does your arrow avoid the mark!" Pleased by the 
answering sniggers of the class, Chips went on, 
more kindly : " But don't despair, Bulmer, try again. 
Try ( intrusted with' instead of 'sent.' One day 
you'll be able to construe things like sine qua non 
and master equally incredible difficulties." 

". . . and had intrusted that war to Camillus . . ." 
said Bulmer, despairingly. No remarks from Chips, 
so obviously that would do. He went on, ". . . he 
asks one helper for himself for that duty ..." 
Still all went well. Then he struck a bit that lie 
remembered by heart out of the crib, and Chips 
crossed his hands upon his gowned stomach with 
an air of content. Then Bulmer's memory failed: 
". . . Romania inirantibus fines, when the Romans 
entered their country, non demigratum, nobody emi- 
grated," he muttered, and tried to hurry on, but 
Chips leaped up in his arm-chair. 

"Stop!" he bellowed. "Stop! ere you hurry us 
all into that section of Avernus where howls the 
shade of Propertius as it waits for that of Miss 
Braddon." 

"Not everybody emigrated," said Bulmer, hope- 
fully. 

"Nay, Bulmer, strive not. Horace foresaw you 
and said your mountain might be in labor, yet of 
your efforts should an absurd mouse be born." 
Then suddenly the master lost his temper and ad- 
dressed the class more colloquially : 

"Gentlemen, you make me sick. I will say to 
you, as did the officer who apologized, that you are 
fit to carry guts to a bear. You are my fifth form, 

6 



*» CALIBAN *$ 

but I am beginning to think that you are the fifth 
form because, in this academy, four forms know four 
times more Latin than ever you will." His choleric 
face shone and he picked out Buhner. 

"Buhner, in the words of the Elizabethan bar- 
barian whom you call Shakespeare, I write you down 
an ass. You are fat and shining, with well- tended 
hide, as a hog from the herd of Epicurus. Hog 
and ass. Buhner, you drive me to the end of my 
zoology." 

A hot flush ran up Buhner's cheeks, his ears felt 
fiery, and as sniggers rose about him he grew angry 
and said: 

"Oh well, what's the good of Latin and Greek, 
anyway?" 

"What!" said Chips, incredulously. "Say that 
again!" 

As Bulmer did not reply, Chips went on, "Did I 
understand you to ask what's the good of the 
classics, anyway?" 

"Yes, sir," muttered Bulmer, shrinking. 

"Oh! Plutarch must have been thinking of you 
when he said that the Macedonians are a rude and 
vulgar people who call a spade a spade. And, pray, 
what do you imply by that interesting remark?" 

"Oh well," said Bulmer, desperately, "what's the 
good of Latin? Nobody talks Latin." As Chips 
stared at him, horrified, Bulmer, who felt very self- 
conscious, added, "If it was German it might be 
some use." 

After a long pause Chips replied : 

"This is not a debating society, Bulmer, but 
since I asked you what you meant you are en- 



« WINCHESTER HOUSE *» 

titled to speak. You mean that the classics have 
no utility?" 

" Yes, sir." 

"Well, my child, I might bruise your adolescent 
head with the periods of Cicero, but I will have 
mercy upon you, I will refrain from you. I will tell 
you simply that utility is base and vile, and that 
nothing is any good to you if it is useful to you. 
And this being a metaphysical point, Bulmer, I do 
not expect you to grasp it. Rather will I teach 
you to love wisdom and clarity by asking you to 
write out for me, and deliver, mind you, punctually, 
by the morning of the day after to-morrow, five 
hundred times this solemn resolve, 'I must not be 
a utilitarian.' And now pass on, pass on the torch, 
and you, Sykehouse, take it up and dance me 
merrily." 

"Anyhow," thought Bulmer, "that's over," and 
wondered whether it would be possible to fit a pen- 
holder with five nibs instead of the usual three. 
This idea was entrancing, for he was not quite 
fifteen. If one could only make a penholder with 
five hundred nibs, why, the great impot problem 
would be solved. 

Winchester House was a bad school, but as schools 
went, in those days when Queen Victoria had still 
three years to wait to celebrate her first jubilee, it 
was not much worse than most bad schools. This 
academy for young gentlemen occupied in Maida 
Vale a large, double-fronted house, built under 
William IV and since then seldom repaired. Parti- 
tions had been knocked down to make a big class- 
room on each side of the front door. The paint was 
2 7 



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% CALIBAN °S 



brown. The walls were papered dark red, with a 
pattern of yellow roses. The boys sat upon forms 
that were too high for the little ones and too low 
for the big ones. In a corner stood a globe; upon 
the walls hung Mercator maps; in the big class- 
room was also a colossal gold-framed engraving of the 
wedding of Queen Victoria to the Prince Consort. 
Behind the wire-blinded windows lay the gravel 
front garden, where lingered evergreens which Tar- 
land called nevergreens. Lost among these shrubs 
stood a statue of a nude and peeling female pouring 
nothing from a jug. 

It was not such a bad school. Mr. Walton, other- 
wise Chips, had been to Oxford, taken honors in 
classics, had married a local barmaid. After being 
turned out of several schools, because Mrs. Walton 
visited the bars of the town, either for old sake's sake 
or for refreshment, he had imitated his wife. Now, 
fifty, too fat, very red, pompous, choleric, he drank, 
not enormously, but steadily. He shaved every two 
days, except when he expected parents. He break- 
fasted in his gown and spilled egg on it. Tarland 
called it the robe of the Ethiopian because, like the 
leopard, it never changed its spots. But Chips had 
a true and passionate feeling for the classics. He 
managed to bang and bellow some of his fervor into 
those sons of tradesmen and decayed gentlefolk 
from Kilburn and Brondesbury. He was a better 
man than old Topsy, with his long, melancholic head, 
his soup-scented mustache and whiskers, and his 
capacity for preventing the boys from ever finding 
out the difference between the binomial theorem 
and atomic weights. Old Topsy taught commerce, 

8 



°g WINCHESTER HOUSE jB 

too, a concession to the modern spirit of the 'eighties. 
He was qualified because he had once joined his 
brother-in-law in a tea business that failed. Then 
there was Clamart, the Frenchman, with hair that 
stuck up and a mustache that stuck up, who taught 
French, and German, and music, and dancing, and 
set the boys undesirable translations out of the 
fashionable Mr. Zola. He was often seen picking 
up girls outside the Palmerston. There was old 
Barnes, too, gray, spectacled, and free from all il- 
lusions, presumably because he had to teach geog- 
raphy. He also took prep. — that is, he sat down while 
the boys larked— and page by page he inspected his 
stamp collection. He was also supposed to super- 
vise games because, thirty years before, when he 
belonged to the Brixton Hebdomadals, he had 
knocked up seventy-two off a bowler with a cast in 
his eye. 

And yet Winchester House might have been a 
worse school. If old Chips, casting treasure before 
them, and Topsy, automatically chalking up equa- 
tions, and Clamart, liberating the boys from the 
pompous Corneille and the wearisome Madame de 
Sevigne, were not educating, they were not mis- 
educating. The boys learned little, but they es- 
caped being molded into a common form. Thus, 
Tarland, who was mechanical, found that Topsy let 
him off chemistry and allowed him to concentrate 
on light, heat, and elementary electricity. And 
Selby, who was good at games and nearly sixteen, 
went about with Clamart and learned a bit about 
the world. Bulmar was less fortunate. He looked 
upon the whole curriculum as sodden rot. He 

9 



°g CALIBAN *S? 

hated Latin with excessive intensity; Topsy's chem- 
istry was no good to him. What Bulmer wanted to 
know was how they made soap, and what was the 
real difference between iron and steel. He liked 
Clamart. When the master asked him why he was 
so keen on French he replied, "I want to speak 
French because one day I'll go to France." Bul- 
mer was not lazy; indeed, if facts had been laid 
before him he would have memorized them end- 
lessly. He came across Hard Times at home one 
day and developed admiration for Mr. Gradgrind. 
Now he was walking home for dinner along Maida 
Vale, swearing aloud: 

"Sodden rot! Got to write that out five hundred 
times! The same thing five hundred times! As 
if anybody cared about a thing after it had been 
said once." 



Chapter II 
A Family 

IT was after nine o'clock On the right side of the 
hearth, in a worn horsehair arm-chair, sat Mr. 
Buhner, his feet incased in flowered slippers, upon 
the fender. He was reading the St James's Gazette. 
Opposite — but because she was a woman — in a 
rather smaller and less comfortable arm-chair, sat 
Mrs. Buhner, rather stately in her tight bodice of 
puce alpaca, with a long row of black buttons from 
neck to waist, and a pleated skirt of black merino, 
of which the bustle was thrust away a little toward 
the left. She looked content, rather rigid, in her 
powerful stays, that thrust up her bust and nar- 
rowed her waist. An established lady. Her toes 
turned neither in nor out, in her neat kid boots. 
From time to time she turned over a page of the 
second volume of Ishmael, then just out. She 
loved Miss Braddon. Miss Braddon understood 
romance. 

From time to time Mrs. Buhner swept a look full 
of capable control over her family, then collected 
about the round table, and Uttering with the imple- 
ments of their work the green plush cloth with the 
golden fringe. Eleanor was mending socks. She 

was very good-looking in a meager way, with her 

11 



c % CALIBAN j8 

high nose, her faintly golden skin, the wavy brown 
hair, which tossed in rather matted heaps (for she 
seldom washed it) over a very fine forehead. Her 
fine-cut lips, the long, nervous hands, and the stir- 
ring blue of the large, long eyes, would have made 
her beautiful if Eleanor had not had the teeth of 
her period : she did not even have them all. 

In the lamp the bad oil smoked, and through the 
frosted globe the light played on Henrietta's feat- 
ures, for the younger sister was nervous. As she 
bent over the underclothes which she was making 
out of lawn, all the time her hands sought unneces- 
sary scissors or absent thread. She jerked her head. 
She looked about her, birdlike, inquisitive. She, 
too, had the golden skin inherited from her mother, 
and the bad teeth inherited from Victorian puri- 
tanism. Yet there glowed in her eyes — blue, too — 
something soft, half-flirtatious, that was absent in 
those of Eleanor. When even she looked at Richard, 
who sat over the Boys' Own Paper volume for 1883, 
she gave a little, half-friendly smile. As if even 
Dickie were a man. 

Mr. Buhner put down the St. James's Gazette and 
yawned. This indicated to the family that the mas- 
ter of the house was taking his ease, and that his 
women might talk. Eleanor said : 

"I can't understand why you waste your time 
making those things, Hettie." 

"To wear them," said Henrietta, rather sprightly. 
(A young man with whom she had once waltzed 
three times in a night had told her that she was 
spirited.) 

"I don't suppose you want to sell them," said 

12 



°$ A FAMILY jjB 

Eleanor. "What I mean is, what do you want to 
wear things like that for? Calico is quite as good, 
and much cheaper." 

"I dislike calico," said Henrietta. "If I choose 
to spend my money on lawn, surely that's my 
business." 

"Oh, surely. But I can't imagine what you want 
to wear lawn for. Nice women don't bother so 
much about their underclothes, if you ask me." 

"I'm not asking you," snapped Hettie, "'and," 
she added, savagely, "if you ask me, I don't think 
this discussion is at all proper in the presence of 
gentlemen." 

"Now, gals," said Mrs. Bulmer, closing up Ish- 
maely "please don't quarrel. Hettie is quite right. 
This is not an occasion for discussing these things. 
They have nothing to do with your father." 

"I don't see why she shouldn't buy things that 
wear," growled Eleanor, taking long stitches that 
would avenge her when the sock was worn. She 
said no more, and contented herself with sulky side 
glances at Henrietta, who was now giggling and 
blushing because her father, interested by the con- 
versation, was winking his left eye at her with solemn 
regularity. 

"You girls!" said Richard, "always on the ran- 
dan! When I get married I sha'n't allow those 
goings-ons." 

Henrietta tossed her head, then cried out: 

"You little beast!" for Richard had kicked her 
shin under the table. He got up, took some exercise- 
books which lay on the sideboard under the salad- 
dressing. After a moment, as he opened the books, 

13 



*£ CALIBAN *8 

he found there was not room, got up, and placed the 
Boys' Own Paper on the top of other books on the 
shelf. After a moment, Eleanor, who had watched 
him, said: 

"Richard." 

"Yes?" 

"Do you see what you've done? YouVe put 
your book on the Bible." 

"Oh, get out!" 

"You mustn't answer your sister like that," said 
Mrs. Bulmer. "Eleanor is quite right. You should 
put nothing on the Bible, not even the lightest 
paper." 

With a growl, Richard relieved the Bible, and, 
sitting down, began to write. 

Mrs. Bulmer, her eyes lost in vagueness, was 
thinking. Her evening frock was really rather 
faded. What a pity broch6 went like that! She 
hadn't been able to resist it. Such a pretty shade 
of garnet! and it went so well with her crimson 
flounced skirt. It struck her that something might 
be done. Perhaps turning might help. And she 
might freshen it up by putting in a new ruche round 
the back, and change the shoulder-straps. What 
would go with garnet? she wondered. Turquoise- 
blue velvet? Or perhaps not . . . black velvet? 
Velvet, anyhow; velvet looked rich. 

Mr. Bulmer was reading from the St. James's 
Gazette: 

"We'll have to make an end of this government. 
Gladstone left Gordon to die, and now his packed 
majority has saved him from a vote of censure. 
Bribed, the whole lot of them. The country's going 

14 



<g A FAMILY « 

to the dogs. Still," he smiled, "I suppose it '11 last 
my time." 

Nobody said anything. Politics belonged to the 
master of the house. He knew. Mr. Bulmer was 
good-looking, fifty-four, very bald, but his baldness 
went well with his heavy brown mustache and 
beard, that stood out sharp as if molded against his 
rosy skin. He was rather stout, but, crossed upon 
his waistcoat, his podgy hands were pretty. As 
nobody challenged him he hummed for a moment, 
tol-lol-derol, fol-derol, and once more took up the 
paper. 

Mrs. Bulmer said, "Dick, it's time to go to bed." 

"All right, mother." 

"I didn't tell you to say all right, Dick. I told 
you to go to bed." 

"I've got something to do." 

"Oh! I thought that at Winchester House they 
gave no home work." 

"It isn't home work." 

"What is it?" 

"It's an impot. Do let me get on with it, 
mother." 

1 ' Do you mean you've been punished? What have 
you done?" 

"Oh, nothing. I just told old Chips that Latin 
wasn't any use." 

Everybody looked at the boy, Mrs. Bulmer, 
shocked at his revolt; Mr. Bulmer, half shocked and 
half sympathetic; Eleanor, distinctly censorious. 
Henrietta grew meditative, as if she wondered what 
sort of man was old Chips. 

Mrs. Bulmer spoke: he had done very wrong; he 

15 



*K CALIBAN "$ 

had been rude; he had been rebellious; he had set 
himself up. 

"Oh, I do wish you'd let me get on with it!" said 
Richard. "I must not be a utilitarian/ ' he groaned, 
as he wrote. "I must not be a utilitarian. . . . Oh, 
lor', father, why mustn't I be a utilitarian?" 

"Don't say, oh, lor'; it's vulgar," said Eleanor. 

"You shut your ugly mug," said Richard. 

"If you say things like that," said Mrs. Buhner, 
"your father will give you a whipping." 

"And quite right, too," said Eleanor. 

"Ellie, you give me the sick." 

Everybody lectured Richard. Mrs. Buhner inter- 
vened and promised to wake him up at six o'clock 
next morning. Anyhow, he mustn't miss his beauty 
sleep. The boy sulkily went to bed; a quarter of 
an hour later his sisters folded up their work and 
also went up-stairs. 

For a moment Mr. Bulmer walked up and down, 
his hands in his pockets, whistling. Mrs. Bulmer 
said: 

"For goodness' sake, don't whistle like that, Her- 
bert; you get on my nerves." 

"Where are the boys of the old brigade?" whistled 
Mr. Bulmer. "Things are looking up, Edie; had 
a bit of luck to-day. A man I'd never seen came up 
to me in the street and gave me his card. No end 
of a big pot in Barclay's Bank, and dealt in five hun- 
dred Jimmies." 

"How much did you make out of it?" asked Mrs. 
Bulmer, who did not care what Jimmies were, but 
knew what she wanted to know. 

"Twelve-pound-ten. A few more of those and it 

10 



« A FAMILY jB 

won't be Mr. and Mrs. Buhner of Carlton Vale long. 
We'll be having our own house with a drive and a 
side entrance for tradesmen in less than no time. I 
know a little place in Highbury that 'd suit us down 
to the ground. Or what about those new houses in 
their own grounds which they've just put up at 
Frognal, in Hampstead, on the very edge of the 
town? It's like being in the country. Ah! Edie, 
if only I have a little luck . . . who knows? You'd 
like to have your own carriage, wouldn't you? And 
a box at the opera? . . . and what about a week at 
the Royal York at Brighton? " 

Mrs. Buhner smiled at him. Poor Herbert, 
always optimistic. She despised her husband be- 
cause he was a failure, but she loved him, probably 
for the same reason. He needed looking after, and 
when he had a cold she liked to bring him arrowroot 
in bed. 

"I'm sure I hope so," she said. "Were Newton 
Leslie pleased?" 

"Rather! New client, you see. Oh, there's life 
in the old dog yet. There's more in this half-com- 
mission business than you think. Things are a bit 
unsettled, of course, with all this industrial unrest 
and these trade-union agitations; still, it '11 all settle 
down. Mark my words; as soon as we get rid of 
that fellow Gladstone the trade-unions '11 fall down 
dead. Dead as a door-nail." 

"I'm sure I hope so," said Mrs. Buhner again. 
"A little entertaining would do no harm. We owe 
several people a dinner; and we've got to get Eleanor 
and Hettie married. Hettie's all right ... if only I 
could take her to those new dances at the Padding- 

17 



*g CALIBAN *g 

ton Assembly Rooms. They say very nice young 
men go there; young men with property, solicitors, 
and even barristers." 

"Oh, that's all right," said Mr. Buhner. "We'll 
manage it." 

Mrs. Buhner browsed on: "Ellie's more difficult. 
She seems to hate society. Sometimes I wonder 
whether it wouldn't be right to let her go out and 
work, as she wants to, though I don't think it's nice 
for a young girl to go out giving piano lessons." 

"Quite agree with you," said Mr. Buhner. "We'll 
marry them off; it '11 be all right. And as for Dick, 
well, it's too late to send him to a public school, 
but he can go to the university. He'll win a scholar- 
ship or something, or perhaps your brother '11 help." 

Mrs. Bulmer smiled. Uncle Hesketh was not 
generous. His Christmas present to Richard had 
been a volume of the Boys' Own Paper. 

"Ah, well," she said, vaguely, "we'll see. Now 
let's go to bed. What's the good of wasting the 
light?" 

Half an hour later a figure, clad in a dressing- 
gown, tiptoed into the room, carefully closed the 
door, lit the lamp. Richard sat down before the 
exercise-books and resumed the impot. He was 
getting on; he had finished two hundred and eighty 
lines during prep., while Barnes meditated over his 
stamp-album. Another seventy lines had been 
managed in the evening. He worked on, and every 
time he finished a page of twenty-six lines he said 
"damn" and turned over. He finished his five hun- 
dredth line as St. Jude's, near by, struck eleven. 
Then he looked savagely at the work. 

18 



« A FAMILY U 

''Five hundred times !" he said. "Five hundred 
times the same thing! What's the good of it? 
Mustn't be a utilitarian!" 

Suddenly losing his temper, he seized the pen and 
wrote in large, blotchy print, below the last line, 
"Why not?" After a moment the fury passed and 
he said: 

"Now I've done it. Damn!" Then he felt in- 
clined to cry. But Richard was practical, and 
thought, damage ? s done; least said soonest mended. 
Tearing out the page, he rewrote the twenty-six lines. 
But, as he went to bed, he was still oppressed by his 
tormenting idea — why not be a utilitarian? Indeed, 
why not? 



Chapter III 
Definitions 

MANHOOD, that steals upon some men slowly, 
as the sun rises, was to be thrust upon Richard 
Bulmer. But he was to be so little conscious of sur- 
rounding fellow-creatures that all the world would 
be a toy to him. Trouble was to touch his family, 
and he would take his share of it without knowing 
that he did more than use his own life. This be- 
cause, though nearly sixteen, though in the last two 
years he had grown very fast and was a lanky youth 
with an intelligent air, he was distinguished neither 
by attainment nor by stupidity. 

The life at school had never mattered much to 
him, for Winchester House, though it advertised its 
playing-fields, arranged only ragged football-matches, 
matching sides of eight when more could not be 
found, or balancing a big boy against two little ones. 
It was a place of such amiable anarchy that it had 
not become, as would have a public school, the deity 
of his boyhood. It did imitate the nobler models; 
chapel — namely, the mumbling of a collect by old 
Chips, was compulsory; and there were prefects, 
overgrown boys who smoked cigarettes and drank 
pots of beer at the Chippenham. They over- 
looked breaches of discipline if a small boy would 

20 



*8 DEFINITIONS H 

carry a letter to a girl, or give some trifle, such as a 

pork pie. Buhner did not mind; this mean life 

seemed natural to him; he dreamed a world very 

like his school, and it may be that he was not wrong. 

Also he was no longer being bullied, for of course 

there was a good deal of bullying at Winchester 

House; no brutality, exactly, no kicking or roasting, 

or tossing in blankets, but a base habit of minor 

persecution. Instead of twisting another boy's 

wrist, a Winchester House boy would put a stump 

of rotten cabbage into his enemy's coat pocket; 

or slip string round his ankles during prep, and 

ghoulishly wait for him to get up. 

Buhner had been thus bullied because he was 

smaller and lighter than boys of his own age. All 

that had ended now, thanks to Joe, who hung about 

outside the Palmerston. Joe, aged about fifty, 

and once enormously powerful, had been one of the 

assistants of Mace, and his sparring-partner when 

Mace was training to fight O'Baldwin. Pockets of 

flesh hung below his eyes, and he had a slobbery lip, 

but, with his close-cut hair and his crinkled ear, he 

still looked a pugilist. Buhner had noticed him once, 

when passing the Palmerston, then talked to him. 

He had asked him whether there was a difference of 

kind between the women who went into the bar with 

men and those who sat alone in the ladies' bar. Joe 

liked young Bulmer, and entertained him with 

stories of the old fights of Wormald and Tom King, 

and especially of his great master, Mace. So it 

occurred to Bulmer to end irritations at Winchester 

House by making an example. For several weeks, 

this costing him a pint a time, Joe led him to a 

21 






CALIBAN *S? 



building-plot in the future Messina Avenue, and in- 
structed him. Bulmer took no joy in these contests, 
and, though Joe played light, he often left a mark 
on the boy. Bulmer soon learned to counter so fast 
that his old antagonist had no time to parry, but 
though his foot-work was naturally good, he had no 
interest in the game; he persevered because, as he 
put it, he was out for business. 

The opportunity soon came. Among his perse- 
cutors was a big boy called Gaddesby, nearly seven- 
teen, who had by his stupidity stuck in Buhner's 
class. He was learning nothing; he had been shot 
into Winchester House by parents in India, like 
refuse on a dust-heap. They paid; Gaddesby stayed 
at school; nobody bothered about him. So, being 
idle, Gaddesby specialized in the persecution of 
Bulmer. He put treacle on his seat, and pinned 
on his back a board marked, "Kick me, I like it." 
Bulmer said nothing. But, one day, when he felt 
ready, and when Gaddesby had beaten his record 
by filling his inkpot with sugar so that the ink re- 
fused to dry, Bulmer waited for him after prep. As 
soon as Barnes was out of the way he went up to 
Gaddesby, and, quietly remarking, "You're a dirty 
swine," hit him on the mouth. Immediately a de- 
lighted ring formed round them. Nobody was going 
home yet. Not they. And, indeed, they were to 
have sport, for Gaddesby, though a fool, was no 
coward. With a bellow he sprang at Bulmer, who 
eluded him, and, as he passed, struck him on the 
ear, following this up with a kidney punch. There 
were roars of applause, and the ring closed up, for 
there were no Queensberry rules at Winchester 

22 * 



<$ DEFINITIONS *8 

House; everybody expected Bulmer to jump on 
the fallen boy, to pull his hair, and scratch his face. 
But he let Gaddesby get up, and though the other 
could give him a stone and a half and a couple of 
inches' reach, Bulmer had already established moral 
superiority. Once or twice Gaddesby broke through 
his guard by weight, and drove him, reeling, against 
the wall; but, in the main, he struck the air, for 
Bulmer dodged and ducked and ran round him, 
striking sometimes with both fists. At last, by luck, 
perhaps, Bulmer caught the giant full under the 
chin, and, as he staggered, struck him ... a little 
below the belt. Winchester House didn't mind that, 
and as the fallen Gaddesby tried vainly to rise, Bul- 
mer for the first time knew the sensations of a hero. 

There was a little trouble about it at home, for 
Gaddesby had broken a tooth for him, and Mrs. 
Bulmer not only disliked having her son hurt, but 
the stump had to be drawn, at a cost of seven-and- 
six. Eleanor thought him disgusting, but Henrietta 
gazed rapturously at her brother; he was really a 
man. Mr. Bulmer told him vaguely that he didn't 
like this brawling, and gave him a shilling. Bulmer 
was fond of his father, who often had played with 
him as another child. But the boy had the serious- 
ness of youth, and felt bruised and lonely because 
his father avoided his questions and would not give 
him the intellectual comradeship which makes love 
between father and son. Mr. Buhner's optimism 
struck him as beyond allowance, for he realized that 
his father hadn't got on. He felt a dim pity for the 
old man, a pity that hurt him because he could not 
express it, s > he accepted his father's failure as a 

3 23 



*$ CALIBAN *8 



natural fact. His father hadn't got on; well, he 
supposed he must do better; also, that which had 
happened had happened and was as wholly lost as 
the previous day. 

For a moment, when he reached sixteen, it seemed 
that Bulmer might be drawn into his family's con- 
cerns. It happened on a Sunday. Bulmer grew con- 
scious of trouble after church. After leaving St. 
Jude's the family took the air in Queen's Park as 
usual, and nothing was said. Mr. Bulmer was par- 
ticularly jaunty, swinging his stick, and whistling, 
"We won't go home till morning." He always 
whistled when his wife had been telling him what 
she thought of him. Bulmer did not dwell on this. 
He was watching the couples, and making up his 
mind that it was all rot saying that fair men liked 
dark girls, and vice versa. He saw lots of fair and 
fair, and dark and dark. Then the proportions 
changed, and the popular verdict was justified. 

"Why do fair men like dark girls?" thought Bul- 
mer. The question in his mind took on the inten- 
sity of a head-line. 

So he overlooked the disturbance. He supposed 
mother's been making father sit up. But, after din- 
ner, when the dining-room door was shut, and Mr. 
Bulmer lay in his arm-chair, asleep, the Sunday 
Times on his head to keep off the flies, Mrs. Bulmer 
sat alone in the drawing-room, which was always 
open on Sunday afternoons. Bulmer was crossing 
it to get on the veranda and climb down into the 
garden (where, among neglected beds of marigolds, 
he was creating water-works fed from the kitchen 
tap); he found his mother, her hands in her lap, 

24 



<xi> 



*g DEFINITIONS « 

weeping, and upon the floor a volume from Mudie's, 
badly trampled. He hesitated; his mother did not 
encourage affection, but her attitude stirred in him 
an emotion forgotten since babyhood. In that 
moment he ached for her and did not know how to 
express his helpless sympathy. He went up to her, 
knelt by her side, put his arms round her, very shy, 
very red, feeling that he was shoving his oar in. 
He asked her several times what was the matter, but 
all Mrs. Buhner would reply was: 

"You wouldn't understand." 

"Oh yes, I would, mother. I'm not such a fool 
as I look." 

"I don't think that, Dick; but, you see, you're 
not grown up yet. You can't understand our 
troubles, quite." 

"Guvnor been at it again?" 

"I don't know what you mean! " said Mrs. Bulmer, 
severely, for this expression to her suggested drink. 

"Yes, you do. Making the shiners fly." 

" I do wish you wouldn't use slang. Oh, I do wish 
your father wouldn't speculate." 

"There you are, didn't I tell you! Course he's 
been making 'em fly. He's a regular old master- 
piece." 

" It is not for you to judge him," said Mrs. Bulmer. 
"After all, he is your father. He did what he thought 
wise, and if things didn't turn out as he expected, 
it isn't for his son to set himself up as a judge over 
him." 

"Oh, mother, that won't wash. You know quite 
well you're as down on him as I am. Why didn't 
you keep an eye on him?" 

25 



^ CALIBAN ]£ 

"What do you mean?" cried Mrs. Bulmer, sud- 
denly impelled to confidence by having to defend 
herself. "Is it my fault that, instead of getting 
orders from other people to buy shares, your father 
should have what he calls a nutter? You'll be 
saying it's my fault he sold electric-lift shares. Is it 
my fault that he said electric lifts were all nonsense 
and the company was bound to break? Is it my 
fault if electric lifts are a success and your father 
has to buy back those shares now they've gone up, 
and lose eight hundred pounds?" 

"Eight hundred pounds!" said Richard. "My, 
he has been going it!" 

"It's nothing to do with you," said Mrs. Bulmer, 
recovering her conjugal loyalty. "Go into the gar- 
den at once; and, good gracious! you've got your 
feet on my flounce." 

She pushed him away, rose from the sofa, caught 
up her fur-edged black- velvet tippet, and, majestic, 
left the room. 

Richard tried to resume the discussion, but Mrs. 
Bulmer refused to talk any more. For a few days 
his father went on whistling, and one evening, at 
supper, talked loudly of taking them all to the Al- 
hambra, now that varieties had been resumed at 
that theater. Then came the solicitor's clerk, whom 
Richard had seen once before; he caught mysterious 
references to mortgages and insurance policies. His 
sisters knew nothing, or would say nothing. Eleanor 
told him to mind his own business. Henrietta wept, 
and said: "What do I know about it? I'm only a 
girl." 

Then he forgot all about it, for he was discovering 

26 



« DEFINITIONS H 

London, and he found in her central portions a 
growing delight. Tarland helped him greatly in this, 
and often, after prep., they would wander down the 
Edgware Road, stare at Bradlaugh's house; reach 
Oxford Street. They laid bets on the next bus 
being a Road car or a General. Then on to Oxford 
Circus and Regent Street, where, feeling very grand, 
they drank coffee at the Monico. They went 
farther, too, down the Strand, to look at the posters 
of the Tivoli, and into Fleet Street. The Fleet 
Street area created trouble sometimes between Bul- 
mer and Tarland; they liked to go up Fetter Lane 
and stand outside the printing-offices; Tarland 
would talk of how a printing-press was made, of how 
it worked; while Bulmer, without being able to 
explain why, took a half-sensual delight in listening 
to the clank. Or he peered through gratings, end- 
lessly, to see copy after copy of a printed page 
slowly descend on the moving arm of the press. 

"I wish I had one of those things/ ' said Bulmer, 
vaguely. 

"I'd like to take it to pieces," said Tarland. 



a 



Chapter IV 
The Wykehamist 11 



BULMER'S thoughts were diverted from the 
financial mysteries of his family by an organism 
which created itself rather than was created, and 
almost at once captured all that in him sought to 
express itself. It came about when he was sixteen 
and a half, and when his departure for the university 
was still in a state of suspended hopefulness. There 
were many such boys at Winchester House. Almost 
everybody was bound for Oxford or Cambridge, just 
as everybody was bound for heaven, but nobody 
went. Now and then a boy of sixteen was abducted 
by his parents, as a hen in the night by a fox. The 
old boy would come back six months later, a junior 
clerk in the city, talking proudly of the importance 
of his firm and in general of life. But many more 
parents did not think it genteel to withdraw their 
sons so early, and so the boys stayed up to seven- 
teen or so, while old Chips, who was too slack to 
work up new lectures, amused them with dips into 
the curriculum. 

Thus, the big boys had very little to do. They 
turned into half -men. Being free from prep., they 
practised introduction to life, by means of the in- 
evitable pots of beer, trichinopoly cheroots, and, 

28 



CT£> 



U "THE WYKEHAMIST" £ 



from seven o'clock onward, love, as expounded by 
the girls at the pastry-cooks' and drapers' in Kilburn 
High Road. 

They played games with heavy condescension, and 
it was a Saturday afternoon, in the disgusted interval 
when the one cricket-ball had been lost, that The 
Wykehamist arose swift as an industrial mushroom. 
The ball had been lost because the boy in the slips 
had missed a catch, and, losing his temper, had 
picked up the ball and hurled it at the batsman's 
head. As the pitch was laid out in a little building- 
plot near Arkwright Road, it went through the 
palings, where some small boys (described at Win- 
chester House as " those Brondesbury cads") seized 
it and kicked it down the hill, yelling. Meanwhile, 
Winchester House was massed at the far side of the 
palings, bellowing words they had learned in the 
Kilburn High Road, and vowing that they would 
disperse the liver of the Brondesbury cads when they 
caught them. 

While two or three chased the Brondesbury cads, 
Sykehouse said to Bulmer, languidly, "I call it jolly 
bad form." 

"Who, what?" asked Bulmer. 

"Stealing our ball. But what can you expect of 
a place like this?" 

" What's wrong with the place?" asked Bulmer. 

"Well, we call them the Brondesbury cads, but 
what are we after all? We're only a day-school. 
We've got no traditions." 

Bulmer looked at him meditatively. Sykehouse 
was a tall, lanky, fair boy, a few months older than 
Bulmer. He was always deliberate, and talked as 

29 



°% CALIBAN 1? 

if he cared for nothing. This, added to the fact 
that his father was a retired naval commander who 
struggled to live on a tiny pension, and bred guinea- 
pigs, gave him some authority in the school. Yet 
the word " tradition" woke in Buhner instinctive an- 
tagonism. He didn't like it, and he didn' t know why. 

"What's the good of tradition?" he asked. 

"Keeps fellows together," yawned Sykehouse. 
"Keeps 'em decent." 

Buhner became thoughtful. 

"I don't know that I'm as struck with tradition 
as you are, but if other schools have got traditions 
. . . well, perhaps you're right, why shouldn't we?" 

Sykehouse smiled, and replied, in a shocked tone: 

"My dear chap, you can't buy a tradition. We 
haven't got a tradition. It's a pity, but it can't be 
helped." 

Then Bulmer grew vivid. 

"Why not? Let's make a tradition. Traditions 
have got to be made like everything else." 

Sykehouse protested against this revolutionary 
idea. He grew faintly excited. The messengers not 
having returned with the lost ball, Tarland joined 
the group, and then Upton, who, as usual, con- 
tributed nothing but ribaldry. He had a round face 
and eyes like currants, so he couldn't help it. 

"Look here," said Bulmer, taking charge of the 
meeting, "Sykehouse says we're a lot of cads. 
Now, don't sing out, all of you. He's right. We 
aren't the stuff out of which they make Piccadilly 
Johnnies with glass eyes. He says we want a tra- 
dition. I'm on. I say we've got to make one. 

You chaps coming in?" 

SO 



H "THE WYKEHAMIST" °£ 

"Rather," said Tarland. 

Upton nodded. Then Mardy, who had sidled up 
to them, joined, and Selby gave the tradition club 
the sacrament of his approval as captain of the 

eleven. 
When the meeting quieted to expectation Bul- 

mer said: 

"Well, that's all right. It is hereby moved and 
seconded that the Winchester House tradition is 
and shall be . . . well, is and shall be whatever it is. 
Only, what's it going to be?" 

"We might go in for proper games," said Selby, 
"if we had some decent playing-fields." 

"We might get hold of a better place," remarked 
Tarland. "Not a bad idea. If we were to play up 
a bit we might get some big matches like Eton and 
Harrow, at Lord's." 

"Yes, I'm for games," said Upton. 

"No," said Bulmer, "that wouldn't do. It 'd 
take ten years, or ten thousand, to pull up this 
school. Besides, I don't want to wait six months. 
W r e want our tradition now." 

"What this school wants," said Sykehouse, "is a 
touch of style. The school cap's all right, but all the 
other schools round here have got caps. There's a 
club at Eton called Pop that goes in for special 
clothes." 

1 ' Good, ' ' said Upton. " I say yellow breeches with 
broad arrows." 

"You shut up. I suppose we could all raise a 
topper, and tails. What about doing something like 
leaving the bottom button of one's waistcoat un- 
done? Something new." 

31 



*g CALIBAN *K 

"What about putting your trousers on inside 
out?" suggested Upton. 

"Something distinctive," said Sykehouse, ignoring 
the joker. 

"No good," said Bulmer; "you can wear a topper 
if you like, but I don't want to sweat like a bullock." 

There was a long silence while everybody thought, 
when Bulmer violently dug Tarland in the ribs and 
cried: 

"I got it. What about a school magazine? That's 
the ticket! Keeps you in touch with the old boys. 
Quotations about Winchester House from the Morn- 
ing Post of 1870; Winchester House roll of honor 
in the Crimea; letters from an old boy who's a 
bishop." 

His enthusiasm was such that everybody surren- 
dered, and the magazine was born. There was a 
long argument over the name. Sykehouse wanted 
to call it The Kilburnian. The School News was re- 
jected because it might apply to any damn school. 
At last, after three days, Bulmer discovered that 
Winchester boys called themselves Wykehamists, 
and, to the horror of Sykehouse, The Wykehamist 
was enthusiastically adopted. 

"Pretending to be at Winchester! I call it jolly 
bad form." 

"Oh, go to with your old form," said Bulmer; 

"we don't want any good form, we want this maga- 
zine to go." (He had forgotten the tradition, and 
never thought of it again.) 

The Wykehamist had a short but interesting career. 
It began ambitiously, with subscriptions ranging 
between sixpence and five shillings, from various 

32 



*$ "THE WYKEHAMIST " £ 

parents, mainly parents of the boys who had been 
asked to contribute. Buhner, who had heard of the 
typewriter — then almost as curious as a generation 
later the airplane — thought of having the necessary 
fifty copies typed every month by Remington. But 
the cost of production was too high, while printing 
proved worse. Finally The Wykehamist was repro- 
duced on that precursor of the collotype, a sticky 
sheet of gelatin, from which the necessary copies 
were smudgily drawn with ink that ran from hand- 
writing that had convulsions. 

" Another twenty on to our circulation, and no- 
body will be able to read anything. Our success 
will bust us." 

The Wykehamist certainly deserved to "bust" 
with success. An inspired mind guided it, even 
though it had to put up with painful impediments. 
The committee had thought it advisable to get in 
old Chips. As Buhner put it : " If we don't let him 
in, he'll try to stop it. If we do let him in, we can 
say enough to make him stop it ten times, but he 
won't do it." Unfortunately, old Chips, who was 
expected to contribute some rot about Horace, de- 
termined to be local, and produced an article on 
the fauna and flora of Kilburn. As this was not 
very varied, and as old Chips knew the Latin for 
most plants, but not the English, and talked vaguely 
about the oaks and daisies in Queen's Park, Bulmer 
put in some bits of his own. When old Chips pro- 
tested against being made to say that between the 
begonias in Hamilton Terrace he had noticed love- 
lies-a-bleeding and rosemary, Bulmer told him that 
if one only put things in that were true in the maga- 

33 



*8 CALIBAN * 

zine there would be nothing to write about. Any- 
how, it would make people wonder. 

The first was not a bad issue. There were foot- 
ball forecasts by Selby, who in the second issue 
printed a statement showing in how many cases he'd 
been right and said nothing of those in which he had 
been wrong. Tarland contributed some personalia, 
including some verse, where he made the name of 
the French master rhyme with "you a clam are." 
When Mr. Clamart, after great difficulty, found out 
what a clam was, the magazine would have been 
stopped if old Chips had not said that clam fitted 
him to a T. Upton supplied correspondence asking 
for information as to shops where one could buy 
cheaply stamps, toffee, and cricket-bats. (He sup- 
plied the answers himself in the second issue.) As 
for Bulmer, he was editor, cutting, saving lines, 
paragraphing, and experimenting with head-lines. 
He had never been so happy before. It was a suc- 
cess, and Mr. Barnes said to him after prep. : 

"Buhner, I should say the Times contains more 
news, but what you're doing is more readable." 

And so The Wykehamist went on, impertinent, in- 
coherent, and neatly following the talk of the day. 
Thus, in the second issue, when Sarah Bernhardt 
was booming, Mardy contributed several stories of 
the great actress, which he had stolen from the 
parish magazine. The features were maintained, 
and The Wykehamist extended its answers to cor- 
respondents, composed by the staff. These, being 
very stimulating, were an immense success. 

A. F. — You should have her chloroformed. Much 
less likely to cause trouble than shooting. 

34 



*8 "THE WYKEHAMIST" *8? 

Rosy Toes. — If he did that he is no gentleman. 

Puzzled. — Oh, you go and hang yourself. 

That was their best number, for Clamart con- 
tributed reminiscences of the Franco-German War, 
but Sykehouse insisted on inserting his article on 
Good Form, which had been crowded out of the first 
issue. 

Unfortunately The Wykehamist was cramped, for 
it had only eight pages, and, by degrees, half the 
boys, many of their sisters, then some of the sisters' 
young men, poured copy upon Buhner. He was 
quite calm. What he didn't want he tore up and 
used as scrap. As he put it: " We want more poetry. 
They use such lovely note-paper." The third issue 
caused a crisis, for Tarland brought up his personalia, 
and, after reading them through, Bulmer said: 

"This is flat as ditch-water." 

"What's the matter with it?" asked Tarland. 

"Oh, I don't know. You've run out of ideas. 
You're stale." 

Tarland gazed at him, incredulous. Bulmer 
added: "We shall have to drop you out. It can't 
be helped." 

Tarland began by threatening; then pleaded that 
he had been one of the founders of the magazine. . . . 

Bulmer reflected that indeed it was very hard on 
Tarland, that he liked him very much. But what 
could he do? "You see, old chap," he replied, "I 
can't help it. I've got to get the best stuff I can 
for the mag. If you've got no more ideas I must 
get in somebody else." Bulmer felt sorry for a 
while, but he had to put in Mardy. He scored with 
an article from Topsy on scientific experiments, for 

35 



*S CALIBAN % 

five shillings a year, though Topsy left the magazine 
after Buhner altered his title to: " Bangs and Stinks 
for a Brown a Week." 

Then Barnes quarreled with him because he re- 
fused " Thoughts on the Serious Call." The Wyke- 
hamist lived seven months, and having attained a 
circulation of seventy-three, disappeared, partly be- 
cause the editor's family at last met its catastrophe, 
partly because the editor, infuriated by seeing his 
circulation rise only three in two months, declared 
the thing was not paying its way and must be 
scrapped. 



Chapter V 
Prelude 

IT was just after Buhner's seventeenth birthday 
that he grew aware of some major disturbance 
in the affairs of his family, of something that hap- 
pened in the evening after he went to bed, some- 
thing confab ulatory and controversial that carried 
raised voices to his bedroom. Eleanor knew some- 
thing about It, but shut him up, telling him it was 
no business of little boys. As for Henrietta, she was 
turning an old costume. She certainly knew nothing. 
Indeed, she shared with him some lacrymose com- 
plaints. 

"I'm twenty-six," she said, "and they don't tell 
me anything." 

It, whatever "It" was, went up and down as 
things did at Carlton Vale. One night there was 
an audible quarrel between Mr. and Mrs. Buhner, 
from which Richard gathered that "she'd been a 
good wife to him," and later "... driving my chil- 
dren to the workhouse!" Two dsiys later Mr. Bul- 
mer came home, whistling and singing : 

"There's music in the parlor, 
To give the house a tone. 
There's something every evening 
In Maggie Murphy's home. . . ." 
37 



*$ CALIBAN IB 

And on Saturday afternoon they all took the 
steamer from Chelsea Pier to Greenwich, and had a 
shrimp tea. Then "It" began again, and when his 
mother picked up the Daily Telegraph and kicked the 
Financial Times down nine front-door stone steps, 
he guessed "It" must be money. He was interested 
in the Financial Times, which Mr. Bulmer now took 
instead of the Financial News, because it had just 
been created, and he liked being up-to-date. Some- 
times Bulmer came down in his dressing-gown, well 
before breakfast, and read it, sitting hunched up 
against the umbrella-stand. It was mainly jargon, 
but attractive. It wasn't so much the idea of mak- 
ing money, but this talk of tea-plantations in Ceylon, 
of railways in South America, of companies, of amal- 
gamating capital, was exciting. A window upon the 
world. By degrees he came to understand the mech- 
anism of limited liability, followed the rise and fall 
of favorite shares, much as some of his schoolmates 
followed the progress of Kent or of the Blackburn 
Rovers. Reconstruction of companies and the 
writing-off of capital were most exciting. 

This education produced its fruits about the 
middle of the disturbed period. For The Wykeham- 
ist had, in its way, been a success. Expiring after 
the seventh number, and having achieved a total 
sale of about four hundred and sixty, at a cost of 
production of less than a half penny a number, Bul- 
mer had made over six pounds, for, of course, the 
contributors were not paid. He kept this secret, 
partly because it might cost him his pocket-money, 
and mainly because he knew the money would be 
forced into a bank to do him good when he was 

38 



*8 PRELUDE *5? 

grown up and didn't want it. Moreover, he wanted 
to buy an encyclopedia, having found out in odd 
volumes of this work, which Mr. Clamart used to 
raise the piano-stool, that there was enormous in- 
terest in reading, first about Confucius, and then 
about Conger eels. He often searched Charing 
Cross Road, accompanied by Tarland, who was a 
nuisance, however, as he persistently dug out old 
numbers of the Amateur Mechanic. Just as Bulmer 
was engaging in complicated negotiations destined 
to knock down an almost complete set from six- 
pounds-fifteen, he came across the advertisement of 
an outside broker. He called personally for a pros- 
pectus, and discovered that, with five pounds de- 
posited as margin, he could buy or sell fifty shares, 
or a hundred pounds' worth of debentures, handle 
hundreds of pounds with tens. This produced in 
him a disturbance almost volcanic, not that he de- 
sired money, beyond fifteen shillings for the encyclo- 
pedia, but this idea of handling large sums, of being, 
in a way, a power in the market, was irresistible. 
He did not take his first step hurriedly. Three times 
he nearly bought Berthas, then fortunately drew 
back. At last he realized that markets cannot 
always go up, nor always go down, that if a share 
moved at all there must be a turning-point. The 
thing to do was to find the turning-point and turn 
with it. Thus, he came to buy Yangtse-Kiang Con- 
cessions, which for some time had been running up 
and up, starting at two shillings, leaping to six, 
tottering for a moment round seven, and then gain- 
ing threepence to ninepence a day, until they stood 

at eighteen shillings. They had paid no dividend; 
4 39 



*8 CALIBAN °$ 

nobody knew why they rose, and for several days 
Bulmer watched them. Seventeen and nine, eighteen 
shillings, eighteen and three . . . seventeen and nine 
again, eighteen and six . . . eighteen and a penny half- 
penny. . . . Instinct told him that a few people were 
still buying, but that other people were selling out. 
That was why the price varied so little. Soon 
something must happen, because those who hadn't 
sold out would get frightened when the rise 
stopped. Then all would want to sell out. Now 
was the time. 

So he called again on the outside brokers in Cop- 
thall Avenue. The head clerk, a German, did not 
suspect the young man of being a minor, for Bulmer, 
though short, was very self-possessed. But what 
he could not believe was that the young man wanted 
to sell fifty Yangs. 

" Sell? " he said. "You mean buy." 

"No, I want to sell." 

"You want to sell a bear?" said the man, staring. 
(Bucket-shops are not accustomed to greenhorns who 
sell bears; catching flats on the bull tack is nearer 
their mark.) 

"Yes," said Bulmer, "they're going down," and 
put down his five-pound note. 

He was right. Nothing sensational happened to 

Yangs. After four days the sellers forced down the 

price to fourteen shillings, after which the shares 

recovered and tottered round the fifteen figure. 

Bulmer did not succeed in buying back his shares at 

lowest, but still, after paying brokerage and stamps, 

he cleared over seven pounds. Unfortunately he 

could not keep this to himself; success is the enemy 

40 



°e PRELUDE *8 

- 

of secrecy. It was not quite his fault. After supper, 
when "It" showed signs of beginning, Mrs. Bulmer 
sat like a juggler who has swallowed his sword up to 
the hilt, and Mr. Bulmer remarked: 

"Damn those Yangs!" 

"Herbert!" said Mrs. Bulmer, "not before the 
children.' ' 

But Mr. Bulmer was exasperated. "Oh, I'm sick 
of all this hiding, Edie. They'd better know, since 
we're all going to the workhouse." 

"Please control yourself, Herbert. Is it not 
enough that my children's father should be a gam- 
bler without their having to know it?" She grew 
very red: "And instead of going down on your 
bended knees because you still have a roof over your 
head, you sit there . . . swearing! Of course Yangs 
went down; I told you so." 

"Damn!" bellowed Mr. Bulmer, "if you tell me 
you told me so again I'll ... I'll emigrate." 

"Oh, the bailiff '11 find you in New Zealand," said 
Mrs. Bulmer, acidly. 

It went on, though Mrs. Bulmer tried to change 
the subject. Then Richard said something idiotic. 

"I knew Yangs 'd go down." 

"Oh, did you? " said Mr. Bulmer, ferociously. "I 
suppose you'll tell me you told me so, next. And 
what do you know about it?" 

"Oh, nothing. Only I sold a bear." 

Everybody stared at him. Then Mrs. Bulmer, in 
a thin, pale-yellow voice, whispered, "Richard, you 
haven't been gambling?" 

"I don't know about gambling, but I made seven 

pounds." 

41 



« CALIBAN °£ 



Mr. Bulmer stared at him; then, without logic, 
said: 

" You sold while I bought? You've been working 
against your father." 

"Well, you didn't tell me," said Richard, feeling 
guilty all the same. 

Then "It" began properly. One father, one mother, 
and two sisters demonstrated to Richard that he 
was an unnatural child, that he must have got into 
low company, with those vulgar young men in the 
billiard-saloon. It was asserted that he would prob- 
ably end in the workhouse, also in jail, also walk 
the Embankment without soles to his boots. Finally 
he was docked of pocket-money for a month. As 
Richard went to bed he reflected: "Fined half a 
crown a week for a month. Ten shillings down. 
Won seven pounds. Net profit, six pounds ten. It 
pays, but it's damn noisy." 

But events hurried on. Mr. Bulmer had fluttered 
in a great many Yangs. A few days later the com- 
pany's title was questioned, the shares crashed a 
shilling at a time, and before the end of the account 
no jobber would take them on his books. It began 
again, with the addition of Uncle Hesketh, a brewer, 
who, having retired just before brewery shares began 
to slump, knew everything. Something more was 
done to the insurance policy. It was very unpleas- 
ant, for two days later there was a man in possession, 
and everybody looked as if they'd committed a 
crime and, what was worse, expected to be found 
out. Except Henrietta. She said she was sorry for 
the man; such a nasty trade; and made him cocoa. 
All this revealed to Bulmer why the talk of his 

42 



« PRELUDE U 

university career had gone down and down. The 
idea of gaining an exhibition had long been aban- 
doned. Only one boy from Winchester House had 
ever won anything, and that one stayed only three 
months, after which his parents, who had come into 
a fortune, sent him somewhere else. Richard did not 
know what was going to happen to him. He asked 
once or twice, but his father told him either that 
everything would be all right by Thursday or that 
he was improvident and no good to any one, and was 
considering whether cutting his throat or hanging 
himself was preferable. Eleanor was out all day, doing 
something which she kept secret, while Mrs. Buhner 
merely grew stiff and told her son that everything 
would be done for him that was right and proper. 
As for Henrietta, she was sympathetic, but talked 
like an imbecile about blacking their faces and play- 
ing the banjo in a music-hall. 

"I suppose," he thought, as he watched the 
cricket in the Paddington Recreation Ground, "that 
I shall have to do what I want. They don't want 
to do anything. They think if you do things you're 
not genteel. Suppose I should be a clerk." He was 
depressed, but dreamed of smart London night-life, 
of which echoes came to him through Selby and Mr. 
Clamart; playing whist for high stakes, champagne 
wine, ladies in tights and crimson sequins, young 
bloods fighting cabmen for a quid, and pugilists 
getting tight with noblemen. Then vigor returned 
to him ; he was still too young to remain pessimistic 
or optimistic. He merely thought: "I'll be rich. 
By God, I'll be rich!" Then he remembered Uncle 

Hesketh, who had asked him how much was four 

43 



« CALIBAN * 

and a half per cent, on one hundred and twenty-five 
pounds for a year, and hurried on lest he should 
guess right, and talked about a boy knowing his 
place in life. "Til be free, by God, I'll be free." 

A girl passed. She was quite young, and wore a 
fawn cloth bolero with black braid trimmings, and 
a great, frilled skirt, with many blue bows. He looked 
after her. 

"Tidy bit of goods," he said, half aloud. She 
must have heard him, for she turned and flung him 
a sideways, soft brown glance. She looked at him 
with great severity, as if she were shocked. Recog- 
nizing this as the way of his period when consenting 
to approach, he followed her. 

Her name was Annie. Her room was on the fourth 
floor of a house in Walterton Road. Many dirty 
children played on the steps, and from the cornice 
the stucco was peeling. It was not his first visit to 
that district, for one saw life early at Winchester 
House. He did not care for women much: they 
were an amusement of sorts, like the theater or the 
harriers. As he took Annie upon his knee, and she 
removed the bolero (she said so that he might not 
crumple it), he felt cheerful and confident. 



Chapter VI 
Growing Up 

RICHARD was not unhappy in the city. He was 
a clerk at thirty shillings a week in the offices of 
Blakeney, Sons & Co., Indian import merchants, in 
Leadenhall Street. Though he never said so, he had 
never wanted to go to Oxford, for they only taught 
you a lot of rot like Latin and Greek. A certain 
lack of sensuality made the rumors of wines and 
binges unappealing; nor, though he was a fair bat, 
and a rather foxy, though light half-back did he 
desire to earn a blue. Sometimes, as he made for 
Leadenhall Street on a City Atlas, highly painted, 
very dashing, that a coachman of the past, who wore 
a curly-brimmed silk hat, drove at a rattling speed 
and without stopping down Baker Street and Ox- 
ford Street, and on, he thought he had been damn 
lucky to escape the mold of Oxford and the mildew 
of its learning. 

For the city was reality. He did not mind keep- 
ing the stamp-book, nor taking wet copies in the 
press, nor, later, posting a ledger. Every Saturday 
he liked the feel of his thirty shillings. He liked 
cigarettes (though still rather fond of cocoanut bar). 
He liked to pay for a seat at the Euston or the 
Holloway, to which he often went with Tarland, 
and occasionally with Annie. And later with those 

45 



*$ CALIBAN ^ 

who replaced Annie. He felt half free, and had a 
sense of luxury when, at a cheap tavern in Leaden- 
hall Street, he paid for their excellent cut off the 
joint, price sixpence; or sometimes he went to the 
Ten-Ounce Chop, in Aldgate, where he solemnly 
read a broken-backed Whitaker behind the sizzling 
sausages and the steaming, massed greens. He en- 
joyed money, for he liked things. The profits of 
The Wykehamist, and later, those of the flutter in 
Yangs, had not only bought him the encyclopedia, 
but various Whitakers, odd volumes of the States- 
man's Year-Booky dictionaries, and exciting collec- 
tions of facts, such as Races of the World, The Hun- 
dred Best Books, the Railway Annual. From time 
to time he faced temptation, such as the summer 
during which he ached for one of the new bicycles 
with Dunlop tires. But facts won. 

All this distracted him from what was going on 
at Carlton Vale, though nothing need have impressed 
him very much, because in the class of half-poor, 
painfully genteel, restricted people to which he be- 
longed everything happened, but never on the sur- 
face. When the man in possession was in the house 
Mrs. Bulmer had given a little tea-party, and the 
man in possession had been persuaded to play in 
the front garden with a rake. As Mrs. Bulmer put 
it, it all passed off very nicely; and, indeed, Mrs. 
Sandford took him for the gardener. So nice! 
That was how things happened in Carlton Vale. 
Then Eleanor declared that practising alone every 
day was so dull, and didn't help to keep up her 
music. Of course she could take lessons, but she 
didn't think she could find a suitable teacher in 

46 



H GROWING UP *8? 

London, and she couldn't very well go to Dresden 
because her mother needed her. Still she had to do 
something, and it struck her that giving a few lessons 
just to two or three select pupils would keep her 
hand in. So Eleanor kept her hand in, charging 
one-and-six an hour, and as she was firm and con- 
scientious, did rather well, for soon she was out 
every morning and afternoon. Henrietta, as the 
Bulmer fortunes suffered more and more, followed 
as subtle a line. Mrs. Bulmer said she had no 
patience with girls who were always gadding and gal- 
livanting outside the Oxford Street drapers' shops 
or mooning about inside the house. So the servant 
was replaced by a little girl, and Henrietta made 
the beds; then the little girl was replaced by a 
little morning girl, and Mrs. Bulmer cooked the 
meals while Henrietta swept, and cleaned the brass, 
but not the grates. She grew so capable that the 
little morning girl was replaced by an occasional 
charwoman, for somebody had to whiten the front 
door-steps, and there were things the Buhners could 
not do. 

Mr. Bulmer did not seem to notice much of this. 
The change which had begun to come over him four 
or five years before grew more accentuated; his 
pink complexion became pinker; he understood less 
clearly, but what he understood he retained more 
obstinately; he had never liked exercise, and now 
he reduced his Sunday afternoon walk — formerly 
Carlton Vale to Marble Arch and back— to the 
shorter run of Carlton Vale to the Canal. Some- 
times he surreptitiously took an omnibus and hid 
himself for a quarter of an hour in Hamilton Ter- 

47 



% CALIBAN 12 

race churchyard, so that Mrs. Bulmer might not 
know that he had dodged part of his walk. His 
arteries were hardening; he was growing slower; 
as the earnings of his household increased his went 
down. His few clients, who, for a long time, had 
given orders to "slow old Bulmer" because they 
liked him, began to give them to "poor old Bulmer" 
because they were sorry for him. And they gave 
less work to the man they were sorry for than to 
the man they had liked. He did not mind. He had 
never in his life read anything but the newspapers 
or a novel. Now he wanted a simpler kind of novel, 
something that demanded no thought. Having 
come across some Henty presented to Richard by 
Uncle Hesketh, he enjoyed it very much; he went 
on to Ballantyne, to Captain Marryat; at last he 
began to browse in the bound volumes of the Boys 1 
Own Paper, and when one day Richard, who now 
mixed contempt for his father with more love and 
much pity, offered him a very damaged Chatterbox 
on which Henrietta, twenty years before, had upset 
a plajbe of mutton broth, Mr. Bulmer read it, and 
smiled without any sense of irony. 

Then Mrs. Bulmer, who had only sixty pounds a 
year — fortunately tied up — found that the pound a 
week or so that Eleanor brought in, and the fifteen 
shillings a week which Richard gave, did not meet 
the deficit in Mr. Buhner's income. It took her 
three months to resolve upon a lodger. She had 
awful fears of apartment cards in the window and 
what people would say. But she was lucky, for a 
relative in Germany of a nice lady whose acquaint- 
ance she had made while they were both waiting 

48 



*» GROWING UP °£ 

to interview charwomen in the High Street registry- 
was looking for an English family, preferably musi- 
cal and rich in young society, for her nephew who was 
coming to England as a volunteer in a city firm. 
Hence, Mr. Karl Verden. The young man was in- 
offensive. He was very pink, very short, had gentle 
blue eyes behind spectacles, and his yellow hair 
stood up like the crest of a cockatoo. In the evening 
he played Chopin tenderly, and by degrees Henrietta 
joined him in duets; by growing degrees their hands 
lingered over the duets, and Chopin grew more and 
more sentimental. Mr. Verden was not in the way. 
He went out early and came home late. When 
spoken to he bowed, until Eleanor cured him. And, 
being full of gentility, he never soiled Mrs. Buhner's 
hands with money, but left the weekly twenty-five 
shillings in a sealed envelope addressed to her, and 
half hidden under the plated card-dish. Mr. Verden 
could be explained away. The friend's friend in 
Germany became a friend of Mrs. Bulmer's in Ger- 
many; Mr. Verden, the nephew, became the son, 
then a little German baby whom she had dandled in 
the long ago, and who now, having come to London, 
wanted a mother. "What could I do? Could I 
refuse?" asked Mrs. Buhner, pathetically, at tea. 
People thought she had a kind heart. 

As the year passed the situation defined itself. 
Henrietta was nearly twenty-seven. Of course she 
had nice hair and a good skin. . . . "Pity she's so 
sallow," thought Mrs. Bulmer, who admired only 
white and rose. There was no hurry for her to get 
married. But still. Of course, Mr. Verden was only 
twenty-one. Still, she'd known lots of cases . . . 

49 



*g CALIBAN % 

It really looked as if it might come off, for Mr. 
Verden wrote beautiful German verses in Henrietta's 
album, all about love that is like a little flower, and 
the golden cloud that hangs on the mountain's brow. 
Henrietta was very fond of her album. It was 
bound in red plush, and the word "Album," in 
nickel, was boldly stamped upon the flat. Some- 
times, in her bedroom, she would read the beautiful 
things written by school friends in days gone by. 
She thought of Kathleen, who had written: 

Give every answer pat, 
Your character true unfurl, 

And when time is ripe 

You will then be the type 
Of a capital Irish girl. 

Dear girl! Pity her hair was carroty. There was 
Annabel, too. Her contribution was very edifying: 

111 that He blesses is our good, 

And unblest good is ill; 
And all is right that seems most wrong 

If it be His sweet will. 

Poor Annabel! In those days she wanted to be 
a nun, but now she was a pity. Henrietta did not 
care to think of the latest report of Annabel. Rather 
would she dwell upon the womanly advice of her 
drawing-mistress : 

Whatever you are, be that, 

Whatever you say, be true. 
Straightforwardly act, be honest, 

In fact, be nobody else but you. 
50 



°S GROWING UP *$ 

"Ah!" sighed Henrietta, "if only one could !" 
Then she went down-stairs because her mother was 
calling her to help find her little bag. Mrs. Buhner 
was always losing her little bag, except when the 
thing she missed was the cellar key. 

Richard found himself more and more removed 
from the microcosm of home. He was thinking of 
life, while they were thinking of living. He found 
the future most confusing, for he was quite sure that 
he was not going to stay in the City at thirty shillings 
a week, but he did not know how to get out. He 
went seriously into this with Tarland one evening, 
as they strolled up to Hampstead. Tarland, who 
was working for the South Kensington Science and 
Arts degree, was little interested, because he would 
clearly be an engineer, and, in due course, dam the 
Nile, or bridge Niagara, or something. But between 
the two existed the friendship of boys — that is to 
say, each in turn talked exclusively of himself and 
his future, and the other interrupted when he got 
a chance. Bulmer was the more successful of the 
two. On this occasion he said: 

"I've been looking up histories of all sorts of 
people. Now, the point is, how do they get on? 
Take Napoleon, for instance. I can follow him all 
right as an officer in the artillery. Then, pop! he's 
a general. Or take Manning. He's all right until he 
gets to be an archdeacon and goes over to Rome. 
But there's nothing to tell you how he jumps from 
a sort of priest to Archbishop. There's gaps in their 
careers. Now, if one only knew how one gets on, 
step by step, one might be able to do it. Take the 
MeDai Bridge, Britannia Bridge, I mean; Robert 

51 



^ CALIBAN *% 



9> 



Stephenson didn't build anything like it before; 
what did he do to make them pitch on him?" 

They passed some evenings analyzing the proc- 
esses of talent. They were too young to understand 
the imaginative leap which must be made by the 
people who give genius its chance. Being material- 
ists they granted nothing to luck; both practical, 
they could not believe that a man got his oppor- 
tunity as he might get measles. They did not see 
the world as an ill-disciplined dog-kennel; they had 
enough illusion to imagine the progress of individ- 
uals as that of a soldier who is first private, then 
corporal, then sergeant, and so on. Hence their 
difficulty. Tarland was fairly comfortable; he be- 
lieved in Edison, Moissan, and Faraday, but Bulmer 
wanted a non-scientific god. For some time he tried 
to worship Cavour, Talleyrand, and Machiavelli, but 
as at bottom he despised cunning, he gave his alle- 
giance to Napoleon. This because he went in for 
lots of things, not only fighting, but making laws, 
setting up theaters, bagging the tobacco crop. He 
liked Napoleon because he did things rather than 
because he did anything in particular. He wanted 
money as power rather than as money, and spat 
contempt after wasting twopence on a copy of 
Fortunate Men and How They Made Their Fortunes. 
Wasted twopence on Samuel Smiles and his pi-jaw! 

It was in this incoherence that he grew up. When 
he was twenty his father died. He died quietly, 
without dignity, without producing an effect either 
of comedy or tragedy. He had been a long time 
over it. They buried him, received what was left 
of the two-thousand-pound insurance policy, after 

52 



*» GROWING UP °g 

paying off eleven hundred in mortgages. Mrs. Bul- 
mer bought great quantities of crape; Henrietta 
stopped crying when Eleanor told her that her nose 
was getting as red as a tomato; Richard collected 
the Hen ties and the Ballantynes and swapped the 
lot for two volumes of the Century Dictionary. He 
had other things to think of, for recently he had 
joined the North West London Literary and De- 
bating Society. The Literary he said could go to 
the devil for all he cared, but give him the Debating. 
Also, the society had a monthly journal. 



Part II 
INCIPIT VITA NOVA 



Will there never come a season 

When mankind shall be delivered 

From the clash of magazines, 
And the inkstand shall be shivered 

Into countless smithereens, 
When there stands a muzzled stripling 

Mute, beside a muzzled bore, 
When the Rudyards cease from Kipling 

And the Haggards Ride no more? 

— J. K. Stephen. 



Chapter I 
Running in Blank 

BULMER was twenty-one, and yet he was very 
happy. Against the misty background of Blake- 
ney, Sons & Co., who now paid him thirty-five shil- 
lings a week— and might one day pay him two-pounds- 
ten, there detached itself a rose-crowned pygmy, the 
Journal of the North West London Literary and De- 
bating Society, the Eldee, as its pet name went. The 
Journal had, for some years, existed in a troglodytic 
way, printed in smudgy type, its lines irregularly 
leaded, without columns, without paragraphs, with- 
out grace. It had published many reports of lectures, 
the main object of which was to record that Miss 
So-and-so was present, and that Mr. So-and-so pro- 
posed a vote of thanks. Once it had tried a discus- 
sion, "Is England in decay?" but that soon died out 
because everybody thought that the works of man, 
except the Eldee, were in decay. 

A spirit had to pass over the placid surface of 
those shallow waters. Bulmer, who entered the 
committee much as lava entered Pompeii, found 
himself, at first, paralyzed by amazement. He had 
not expected much of the committee, but he had not 
expected this; it needed a long life to make him 
realize that all committees, whether of the Eldee or 
of the Cabinet, are like this. Nobody talked about 

57 



•g CALIBAN jE 

the Journal, but everybody talked about what he 
or she wanted to do to the Journal. Thus, Miss 
Murrow, who always looked virulent as she peered 
through her glasses, saw the Journal as a political 
instrument of broad progress. Miss Murrow was 
small, thin, and an air of false authority was given 
her by her nose. She generally wore mittens, not 
because she was old-fashioned — oh, very far from 
that — but because she was liable to chilblains. She 
used to enter Mrs. TirriPs drawing-room, where the 
meetings were held, trotting small as a mouse, smil- 
ing ingratiatingly, sit down full of consideration for 
the arm-chair, and then try to shrink into her own 
shadow. Following on this unobtrusive entry, Miss 
Murrow, in a thin and humble voice, would give 
vent to the most revolutionary sentiments. Men 
were beasts and ought to be shut up, the key of the 
prison being thrown into the sea. Marriage was a 
failure. The imposition of skirts on women was out- 
rageous (there was a flavor of bloomers about Miss 
Murrow; she did not wear bloomers, but there was 
about her a latent bloomerishness). As she had 
joined the Fabian Society and could combine in a 
single sentence Imperial Federation and Municipal 
Milk, she seemed quite a dangerous character. Also, 
she was the only member of the committee who 
smoked cigarettes. Miss Murrow's main trouble 
existed in Mrs. Tirril, a widow of thirty-five, Irish, 
fat, jolly, black-haired, and blue-eyed, for Miss 
Murrow always felt that Mrs. Tirril was not public- 
spirited. Indeed, Mrs. Tirril read The Yellow Book, 
and sometimes left it undesirably open. Miss Mur- 
row thought that Aubrey Beardsley did not make 

58 



*% RUNNING IN BLANK *8 



for economic righteousness. But Mrs. Tirril was the 
only member who could lend the committee a room, 
for Miss Murrow kept house for two old parents, 
who treated her, a spinster of fifty, like a child, and 
shrilly declared that her occupations were all stuff 
and nonsense, and that as for having committees in 
the house, cluttering it up with bits of paper, and 
frightening the cat . . . well, they'd never heard of 
such a thing. It was no use asking Mr. Brill; he 
concealed his discreet person in a boarding-house in 
Chalk Farm. The Journal went to him direct at the 
bank where he was a clerk. When asked for his 
address, he replied with an air of seraphic melan- 
choly, "I am a stranger here; heaven is my home." 
As for Mr. Wartle's shop, Miss Murrow felt that a 
shop was not quite nice, and anyhow it would be 
depressing to sit among the coffins. 

She had to bear Mrs. Tirril. Indeed, soon after 
Bulmer joined the committee, Professor Stanton and 
his brow came to her house to lecture on Shake- 
speare's women. The forty-odd members, two- thirds 
of them women, listened to the end, wept a little 
over the griefs of Ophelia and Desdemona, pawns of 
a sable fate. Portia raised in Miss Murrow an un- 
governable desire to get up and say something, and 
she was restrained only by the majesty of the dome- 
like brow, that gleamed white, as if " sicklied o'er by 
the pale cast of thought." Professor Stanton was a 
success. He alluded to Rosalind's male attire; this, 
too, stimulated in Miss Murrow a latent bloomerish- 
ness; indeed, she broke out into a passionate defense 
of the rights of women, which meandered away into 
a plea for rational dress. 

59 



U CALIBAN *% 

Bulmer volunteered to arrange the lecture for in- 
sertion in the Journal, but was thwarted by Mr. 
Wartle, a comfortable undertaker in Kilburn High 
Road. He had difficulties with Mr. Wartle. 
The undertaker was a very large, heavy man of 
about fifty, who could not succeed in assuming the 
melancholy expression required by his profession. 
He was born pink, but grew up red; he had repressed 
his lower nature, as represented by smoking-con- 
certs; he let his hair grow long, and oiled it straight 
down. He wore a mustache and whiskers, and 
combed these straight down. But it was no good; 
secret jollity expressed itself obscene in his brown 
and unprofessional eyes. It was this secret cheer- 
fulness which thrust Mr. Wartle into the company 
of Great Writers and Great Thoughts. And it was 
this which caused his animosity to dawn, because 
Bulmer said that Tennyson was all rot. He also 
said that if Emerson did say that if a man could 
make the best coat or write the best book humanity 
would tread the path to his door, well, then, Emerson 
was a damn fool. People didn't tread paths to your 
door unless you stuck red sign-posts with green spots 
all the way to that door. Also, Bulmer, having for- 
gotten to take notes at the meeting, did not name 
Mr. Wartle among those who were present. And 
as Mr. Wartle felt it would be undignified to com- 
plain, he grew much more angry than he would have 
been if he had spoken. 

Miss Murrow was not pleased because Bulmer put 
in verses by Brill. She considered verses emollient 
and deliquescent, all that sort of thing. Indeed, 
they were not very good verses. Brill was very 

60 



<TCL> 



12 RUNNING IN BLANK & 



young, and his pimples were so many that he could 
not release his spirit through love. So his spirit 
stayed in prison in the bank, and Buhner printed a 
poem by him which began: 

My heart is as a pale white flower 
That seeks a haven in a bower, 
Where rosy lips and lily hands 
May soothe the efflux of my sands. . . . 

Brill was very pleased. Also, Mr. Wartle acknowl- 
edged that, as Buhner put it, " poetry puts gin- 
ger into things, makes the page look less like a 
slab of meat." And Mrs. Tirril was pleased, be- 
cause in one line Brill put an "a" on to breast; she 
felt that the society was at last making a bolt into 
freedom. 

Indeed, Bulmer became a successful editor, for he 
soon realized that what people wanted was to see 
themselves in print. And Mrs. Tirril published 
Memories of My Childhood. She followed this up 
with Memories of My Girlhood; then the series 
stopped on a strong representation from Miss Mur- 
row; and, in time, Mr. Wartle did see his Rambles 
with Ruskin in print. 

So Bulmer was not affected by all that went on at 
home; also, nothing was happening there except 
that Mr. Verden had gone back to Germany, and 
that after believing he had taken her heart with him 
Henrietta rediscovered the organ under the influence 
of the new lodger, Mr. Cocking. Mr. Cocking was 
rather like Mr. Wartle in that he also had been born 
pink, but he had grown up purple. And if he 

61 



*8 CALIBAN *K 

brushed his hair up instead of down, it was because 
he had turned into a commercial traveler instead of 
an undertaker. His thoughts were therefore more 
centered on this world. Mr. Cocking was at home 
only for week-ends; there was, in this, something 
adventurous that moved Henrietta, and when once 
he referred to himself as a knight of the road, a 
romantic halo descended on Sir Galahad Cocking; 
her Galahad . . . who could say — perhaps her Lance- 
lot. Mr. Cocking liked Henrietta, who, nearly 
thirty, was not ill-looking; he liked her all the more 
because he hated Eleanor, and when he arrived home 
on a Saturday afternoon the sound of his cheery 
" Hullo! hullo! here we are again!" in the hall 
caused, as one of Henrietta's novels put it, "the 
imprisoned bird to beat its way into the future 
through the iron bars of her heart." 

Bulmer liked Cocking because Cocking knew about 
ink, in which he traveled, and often they went out 
on a Sunday afternoon, conversing on exciting topics : 
advertisements, the speed of trains, and the cost of 
buildings. Indeed, his mother spoke to Richard 
about it. 

"I haven't anything against Mr. Cooking. He's 
a little bluff, but a very nice man. Only he's never 
in the house. The poor man might as well have no 
home. If you hadn't gone out with him last night, 
well, Hettie had brought back A Venetian Note-book, 
with illustrations. I'm sure he'd have liked her to 
show him the pictures." 

Mr. Cocking contributed to Henrietta's album. 
His square head perspiringly held between his fat 
hands, he could think only of one lyric : 

62 



<g RUNNING IN BLANK ji? 

Fifteen girls and a parson tight, 
Toddling home in the dead of night 
In a row. 

But he felt this was unsuitable for a young lady. In 
the end he had to copy something out of Jokes, Card 
Tricks, and Entertainments. 

And time went on, and the Journal went on. And 
its circulation rose from forty-two to fifty-six, and 
the lady member who was modest wrote a short 
story signed "Daffodil." Things were going well, 
and Mrs. Tirril gave an evening party to all the 
members and their friends, and provided squashed- 
fly biscuits and lemonade. (A little claret-cup for the 
committee.) The society was getting on, for a 
neighboring cleric had brought several females who 
sat in a row (and made Buhner giggle, for they re- 
called Cocking's lyric). He was an entertaining 
cleric, rosy, middle-aged, round-faced, and hovered 
humorously. He asked Mr. Wartle, " What's a 
woman's worth?" and when the undertaker gave it 
up, replied, "Double you, man." Bulmer was 
very busy, for he was taking notes of the costumes, 
this notion having been given him by the Lady's 
Pictorial. It was bound to be popular. So he went 
round sedulously: Miss Murrow, pink cashmere . . . 
noted also a chaste arrangement of purple velvet and 
real lace ... he heard the cleric recite a limeric: 

"There is an old man of Uttoxeter 
Who 's a wife and throws boots and socks at her; 
And when the poor saint 
Goes off in a faint 
The brute absolutely mocks at her." 

63 



*g CALIBAN 






Mr. Wartle took him aside to insist on his insert- 
ing an article on " What we should strive for." 

" Circulation's all we've got to strive for," said 
Buhner. 

" There are deeper ends, higher ends." 

"Ends can't be higher and deeper at the same 
time," said Buhner. Then, subtly, "You don't feel 
inclined to give us an advertisement, do you?" 

Mr. Wartle looked meditatively at the assembly. 
He wondered if it would pay. Some of them were 
pretty old. But surely their relatives would come 
to him for a coffin, anyway. It was the least they 
could do for the Eldee. 

Mrs. Tirril, flushed and flattered, was pinned in a 
corner by the cleric, who recited: 

"In Denmark there was a young Dane, dear, 
Who wanted to ride on a reindeer, 
He said, 'Does it jolt?' 
They said, 'Yes, watch it bolt.' 
It did. They buried him in Spain, dear." 

"Oh, you naughty man," said Mrs. Tirril, and, 
skilfully disengaging herself, pretended to dance to 
the sound of bones. She was very good-looking that 
night, though rather large in her low-cut bodice of 
electric blue, with enormous puff sleeves. As Miss 
Murrow put it, "If I was as fat as that I shouldn't 
wear such tight bodices." But Miss Murrow wasn't 
fat, and therefore had good reason to dress loosely. 

And still the lemonade poured forth, and a young 
lady played on the violin, and as soon as she began 
everybody bellowed. And Bulmer at last succeeded 
in getting Wartle to promise fifteen shillings for a 

64 



cq) 



* RUNNING IN BLANK *8 

page advertisement. And the success of the party 
mounted up and up, for the cleric sang a song full of 
innocent merriment, of which the chorus was: 

A, B, C, D, 

Sing it all with me! 
A, B ; C, D, 
All along with me! 

"What we want," thought Bulmer, "is something 
to ginger it up; something nippy. Nippy notes, 
that's what we want; nippy notes." He glared at 
Mr. Wartle, for the undertaker did not conceal his 
animosity. Nippy notes! He'd nip him when he'd 
got that fifteen shillings out of him. 



Chapter II 
The Animosity of Mr. Wartle 

ON a December afternoon Bulmer found Hen- 
rietta in tears. His sister sat by the window, 
propping up on her left hand her rather worn profile, 
while her right arm hung helplessly by her side, ex- 
cept that from time to time she raised her hand to 
dab at her eyes or blow her nose in a handkerchief 
rolled into a gray ball. Richard had inherited the 
dining-room rights from his father, and now, on 
Sunday afternoons, he used to sit there to prepare 
the Journal. So, until he saw that she was crying, 
he resented his sister's presence. But a loud sniff 
made him look up, and he realized, with a little dis- 
turbance, her pathetic attitude. She was staring 
into vacancy, and light snow was falling. Snow was, 
in a sense, appropriate. Bulmer got up and put his 
arm round her, saying: 

"What's the matter, old girl?" Upon which 
Henrietta pillowed her head upon his breast, and 
wept much louder. 

" There, there," he said, consolingly, patting her 
head in the clumsy way that men have with women 
whom they do not usually caress. "It'll be all 
right," he added, without conviction. "What's the 
matter?" 



°$ THE ANIMOSITY OF MR. WARTLE *S? 

Henrietta did not reply, but turned a few leaves of 
the open album. At last she sobbed, "I'm very 
unhappy." 

He bent down to kiss her hot, humid cheek. He 
did not yet know what to do, did not understand 
that he should hold her to him, say nothing, ask 
nothing, let her cry, wait until this relieved her, 
giving her, meanwhile, the comfort of his contact. 

"What's the matter?" he said. "What's hap- 
pened? Why are you unhappy?" 

"Nothing," said Henrietta, in a muffled voice. As 
Bulmer did not question her she must have uncon- 
sciously feared that he would not do so, for her tears 
began to flow faster, and in one long sentence with- 
out stops she told him the story. 

"Cocking!" said Bulmer. "Well, I'm blowed!" 

"Oh, I did love him so," said Henrietta. Bulmer 
thought of Mr. Verden, but said nothing. He thought 
her feeble, but he was genuinely sorry for her, and so 
again fell to kissing her and pressing her hand. 

"I thought he had such a kind heart," said Hen- 
rietta. "Look at the nice thing he wrote in my 
album." She read aloud: 

"The kettle sings cheerily from the hearth; 
Darby helps Joan with her homely task. 
And Joan chats to Darby of the days that are past, 
Till their dear old hearts beat hard and fast 
As they did in the long ago. . . . 

"Oh, I can't bear it," moaned Henrietta, and wept 
again. 

Bulmer was rather embarrassed. He was too 
young, however well-meaning, to know exactly what 

67 



*g CALIBAN °% 



to do with a tearful female. At last an idea struck 
him. He freed himself, went up-stairs, and on re- 
turning slipped into Henrietta's nerveless hand a 
very sticky bag of cocoanut bar, the cocoanut bar 
that he still loved almost as much as cigarettes. 
Henrietta smiled, freed the bar from most of the 
paper, and gently began to nibble it, leaving pink 
marks upon the pages which she listlessly turned, as 
in gentler melancholy she lived again in the long 
ago. 

"Hettie's a silly fool," said Eleanor, when Richard 
asked her to be nice to her sister for a day or two. 
" Silly sheep! mooning about like that." 

"She was in love with him," said Bulmer, solemnly. 
A misty desire for love was very strong in him. 
Annie and her successors had often brought him to 
a state when he could glimpse love, like a tenuous 
nymph, through a ghostly thicket. Yet, always, 
when he sought to grasp the nymph he found only 
the hardness of soft flesh. 

"You're as big an idiot as she is," said Eleanor. 
"Don't worry about her. She likes being miser- 
able." Bulmer did not trouble about Henrietta as 
much as he would have wanted to, beyond taking 
her to Drury Lane, and once to the Geological 
Museum in Jermyn Street. This latter was not a 
success, because they found a couple kissing on the 
other side of a case containing shales and allied 
schistous rocks; this recalled to Henrietta the lost 
long ago. Besides, he had troubles of his own, for 
Mrs. Bulmer was beginning a solid attack on the 
Journal She realized that she could not forbid a 
young man of twenty-two to run a magazine in his 

68 



°g THE ANIMOSITY OF MR. WARTLE « 



spare time, but she had a painful power of allusion. 
''Going for a walk to-night, Dick? No? Oh, of 
course, the Journal. Such a pity! such a nice even- 
ing!" Or: "Did you think that was quite a nice 
story by Mrs. Tirril? I thought it rather a pity, 
that reference to the lady in satin, but of course one 
must have something for everybody in a magazine. 
I think it's a pity, but of course you know best." 
Or, again: "What a pity you can't work up a little 
bookkeeping, Dick. I'm sure it would be useful. 
But, of course, there's the Journal; I know you 
haven't got time." It was indirect, and therefore 
it was maddening. Also, as time went on, Mrs. Bul- 
mer developed a side-attack which consisted in "see- 
ing his father coming out." 

One day, when Mrs. Bulmer found two copies of 
the Journal ready for post in the hall, and franked 
with stamps for which Richard had paid, she said: 
"I always thought that stamps were office expenses, 
but of course you don't care, Dick. Twopence here, 
twopence there, it all mounts up. But of course 
you don't mind; it's your father coming out." 

Bulmer swore silently and said: "I don 5 t know 
why you're always talking of my father like that. 
You used to stick up for him when he was alive." 

"It's different now," said Mrs. Bulmer. "When 
your poor father was alive I had to see to it that his 
children respected him." 

Upon which Bulmer, defeated, left the room. He 
was not metaphysical enough to wonder why the 
respect that makes calamity of so long a life has no 
practical value when life departs. Besides, he was 
really busy. Already he was selling about a hundred 

69 



**? CALIBAN ]8? 

and twenty copies a month, and if it had not been 
for Mr. Wartle he would have felt very self-satisfied. 
Only, Mr. Wartle was an agnostic, and when Buhner 
began to make arrangements with the local churches 
to circulate the magazine at their meetings, giving 
them a commission on the sale, Mr. Wartle thought 
it necessary to make remarks. 

"I think," said Mr. Wartle, composing his cheer- 
ful countenance to the required gloom, " that we have 
a duty in these things. We should set our faces 
against bigotry and superstition. We ought to be 
a Rational Influence." 

Bulmer murmured something about printers' bills 
not being paid out of Rational Influence, but Mr. 
Wartle rolled on disapprovingly. 

"I am sorry to have to say that I fear the Journal 
is conducted on the wrong lines." 

"But, hang it all," said Bulmer, "we're not taking 
sides. We aren't only selling it at the parish meet- 
ings; I've got hold of the Catholics, and of the Con- 
gregationalists, and the Baptists, and I'm negotiating 
with the Presbyterians. But they want too much." 

"I am sorry I must express my disapproval. I 
should not object if the paper were merely sold to 
these benighted people, but you get nothing for 
nothing. I see you have arranged addresses by the 
various ministers." 

"Well, how do you think I'm going to get their 
flocks to buy the magazine if I don't report their 
pastors? " said Bulmer. 

"Clergymen are not a Good Influence," said Mr. 
Wartle. "They introduce superstition into their 
lectures." 

70 



£ THE ANIMOSITY OF MR. WARTLE TB 

"But, good Heavens!" said Buhner, "the vicar is 
going to speak on the Dutch school of painting. 
Can't do any harm with that." 

"You never know," said Mr. Wartle, and enter- 
tained Buhner with dark stories of Jesuit propaganda 
and of dead babies buried in convent gardens. 

"Oh, go and boil yourself," said Bulmer. 

Mr. Wartle retired with dignity, but his propa- 
ganda against Buhner grew continuous and stealthy. 
Miss Murrow became a Wartleite after a grand com- 
mittee where Bulmer refused to crowd out the Pres- 
byterian minister and to substitute an article by Mr. 
Wartle on "Great Thoughts and Great Thinkers." 

"We've had all that stuff before," said Bulmer. 

"You can never have too much," retorted Mr. 
Wartle. 

"We want some Bernard Shaw," cried Miss 
Murrow. 

"Never heard of him," said Bulmer. 

"You will," replied Miss Murrow. 

"Well, until I do," said Bulmer, "I'll go on selling 
fifty copies a month to the Presbyterians, please." 

Mrs. Tirril intervened to champion Roman Cathol- 
icism which, she said, was so magnificent. That 
made matters worse. As for Mr. Brill, he became a 
nominal Wartleite, but secretly contributed verse 
under a pseudonym. 

At bottom, Bulmer did not worry much. The 
magazine was doing well. It was over the five hun- 
dred, and when, a few weeks later, he captured the 
Radical Club, the Conservatve Club, and the local 
temperance society, his circulation began to hover 

round the thousand. 
6 71 



°g CALIBAN *8 

Indeed, the Journal was occupying him more and 
more; it filled a semi-idle year at the office. He was 
not unhappy at Blakeney, Sons & Co., except that 
he made few friends. He found people slow. Mr. 
Gorgie, the head clerk, was a great nuisance. For 
Mr. Gorgie, who wore sorrowful white whiskers, 
worshiped a private deity: "The God That Gets 
Things Done in a Regular Fashion." Almost every 
day he offered up Bulmer on the altar of this god as 
a perpetually smoking holocaust. Bulmer did not 
cross his t's, and it was maddening to see Mr. 
Gorgie carefully read one of his statements, crossing 
every one of the t's. Also, he wanted the sign £ 
placed exactly between the lines of the paper. And 
on another occasion: 

" Bulmer, " he said, "I do wish that you would 
draw the final double line under the total in such a 
way that one black line comes above the blue line 
of the paper and the other one below. It looks 
better." 

The others, according to their age and position, 
modeled themselves on Mr. Gorgie, and if it had 
not been for his friend, Alf Hawes, Bulmer would 
have, so he told him, bent the ledger on the old 
beast's head, and gone for a soldier. But Alf Hawes 
was a great comfort. He was a rakish young man, 
some years older than Bulmer, who wore check 
trousers and fancy ties; he was no end of a masher, 
and several times a week came in with subtly lurid 
stories of his doings up west. Sometimes Bulmer 
accompanied him on his modish buccaneering, and 
then they played billiards in a saloon near Seven 
Dials, or they found friends and joined arms, pro- 

1 72 



<TQ> 



^ THE ANIMOSITY OF MR. WARTLE « 

ceeding up Coventry Street, loudly singing. Once, 
somebody turned up with a concertina, and they 
caused a disturbance in Leicester Square. Or they 
ended up at the Monico, where Hawes drank whisky 
and water, throwing cigarette ash over his shoulder, 
while Bulmer ate tricolored Neapolitan ices, which 
he loved. 

As for the office, as Hawes put it, it was no good 
for this child. And only show him a better job, he'd 
be on it like a bird. He was sympathetic about the 
Journal, and even sent in a contribution entitled, 
" Thick Nights in Town." After some meditation 
Bulmer decided not to print it. Also, Hawes per- 
suaded him to introduce him to Mrs. Tirril, and, as 
this friendship increased, Hawes tilted his hat more 
sideways, and hinted vaguely that women who were 
said to have a past might very well have a present, 
too. 

Fundamentally, though, he agreed with Bulmer 
that something was lacking in the Journal, and 
together they anatyzed an early copy of Answers. 
The results of this consideration produced some 
trouble with Mr. Wartle, for Hawes expounded 
them to him in Mrs. Tirril's drawing-room, where, 
one evening, they were sitting each other out. Mrs. 
Tirril, very flattered, fanned herself, and smiled at 
them through the ostrich feathers. Hawes pro- 
claimed Buhner's view that the Journal wanted more 
snap. 

"I never heard of such a thing/' cried Mr. Wartle. 
"Snap! indeed. Did Emerson have snap?" 

"I'm sure I don't know," said Hawes. 

"Did Tennyson have snap?" Mr. Wartle rolled 

73 



°g CALIBAN ^ 

on. "Did Walter Scott have snap? Mrs. Tirril, I 
put it to you; shall we leave the Journal of what 
was once a society intended to lead to better things 
in the hands of people who will vulgarize it to the 
level of Pick Me Up?" 

"I'm sure there's a great deal in what you say," 
said Mrs. Tirril, and smiled at him through her fan. 
Then she looked sideways at Hawes and smiled as if 
to say that reward would not fail his patience if he 
were patient enough. 



Chapter III 
Zip 

THE insertion of snappiness into a journal where, 
until then, dignity had given no chance to im- 
pudence considerably increased the animosity of 
Mr. Wartle. Bulmer, who was not very susceptible 
to implied censure, realized it rather late, when Mr. 
Wartle had been going round the society with solemn 
eyes and drooping jaw, thus elaborately maintaining 
sorrow upon his naturally jovial features. Mr. Wartle 
was . . . lowering. And as his anger rose he manu- 
factured visions of himself as a tiger about to spring, 
or as a bull about to bay (Was it bulls that bayed? 
Oh, never mind). While Bulmer sought snappiness 
Mr. Wartle gave him his first political lesson — that 
is to say, while Bulmer worked Mr. Wartle lobbied. 
The undertaker caught the society in detail. He 
deplored to Miss Murrow that her excellent article 
on "William Morris and the Craft Spirit" had been 
cut; he exhibited his devotion to the new social 
order which Miss Murrow represented, said a few 
words about editors who were born vulgarians, and 
left Miss Murrow laboring under a sense of heavy 
wrong at the hands of Bulmer. Mr. Brill proved 
quite easy, for the young poet was afraid of Mr. 
Wartle, because the undertaker reminded him of 

his manager at the bank, and that sort of man awed 

75 



*$ CALIBAN "8 



him. He always vaguely felt that Mr. Wartle might 
sack him. So he scratched his pimples and said 
yes to everything. 

The conspirator found Mrs. Tirril more difficult, 
for the widow had a regretable taste for snappiness. 
She liked To-day, and found Mr. Jerome K. Jerome 
very amusing. She adored Pick Me Up, and was 
always urging Bulmer to emulate the raciness of 
Modern Society. So, while Mr. Wartle boomed in 
whispers about the duty of the society to raise the 
intellectual tone of mankind, she only smiled and 
used her fine blue eyes to break the line of his argu- 
ment. When he had done she said: "Dear Mr. 
Wartle, aren't you . . . well, a teeny wee bit old- 
fashioned? This is 1893, you know. We must be 
modern. " 

"Vulgarity/' said Mr. Wartle, "is unfortunately 
modern. But do we want that sort of modernity in 
the Journal?" 

They argued for a long time, and it was only by 
a fluke that Mr. Wartle won. He referred to a con- 
tribution by Alf Hawes, and said something about 
common young men whose life would not bear in- 
spection. Delicately pressed, and quite unconscious 
of pressure, Mr. Wartle then revealed that Alf 
Hawes had a little affair with the girl in the fish-shop 
near Edgware Road Station. Mrs. Tirril became 
meditative, and by degrees grew filled with a sense 
of intolerable outrage; night after night she had lis- 
tened to Hawes playing the flute! For this! Then 
her thoughts passed to Bulmer; he never came to 
see her. Perhaps he did not play the flute. But, 
for sure, a young man might come for other reasons. 

76 



<x±) 



€, ZIP « 

Mr. Wartle rolled on, and Mrs. Tirril brooded over 
Hawes, who was faithless, and Bulmer, who was not 
even that. So Mrs. Tirril became a Wartleite. 
One evening in the next week, when Bulmer was 
summoned by the committee to show cause why- 
he should not remove the snappiness, everybody 
talked enormously except Buhner, who looked 
bored, and Brill, who scratched. Notably, there 
was a new member, an elder of a local church, who 
had never attended a committee meeting before, and 
so had many lines of policy to lay down. Richard 
sat and listened to the recital of his sins. Miss Mur- 
row thought that the Journal had gone down con- 
siderably. Considerably. When she had first known 
it it was devoted to the cause of progress and modern 
thought. It printed only articles on Socialism and 
De Morgan tiles, and it had interesting correspond- 
ences on the decay of belief. Now! Now it was 
becoming the medium of catchpenny vulgarity. 
The accounts of the society's lectures were scandal- 
ously meager. Great public questions, such as the 
municipalization of milk and the transportation of 
fish, were entirely ignored. Moreover, there were 
features in the magazine which she objected to. For 
instance . . . Miss Murrow stopped suddenly, for she 
was about to make some remarks about the mem- 
ories of Mrs. Tirril's childhood, to say nothing of 
her girlhood, when she remembered that Mrs. Tirril 
was Sound. . . . Anyhow, there were features which 
were obviously undesirable. 

She went on for a long time. Bulmer considered 
the little spinster and thought that, in spite of the 

spectacles which virilized her, she did not look at 

77 



■8 CALIBAN j£ 

all like Vesta Tilley as the Piccadilly Johnnie with 
a glass eye. Caring not at all what Miss Murrow 
thought, he was able to analyze her with some 
sagacity. As the little spinster grew shriller and 
shriller, Bulmer realized her (in other words) as one 
of those people who are restricted within their 
emancipations. While his sisters went round and 
round, scrubbing the stairs, or giving piano lessons, 
like a couple of squirrels in a cage, Miss Murrow 
had escaped from the home cage to manufacture 
another one with many bars. One bar was called 
Modern Thought, another Progress, another De- 
mocracy, another Freedom (but she didn't mean it), 
and in this highly intellectualized cage Miss Murrow 
went round and round, chasing her tail with desper- 
ate intentness and without the slightest chance of 
ever catching it. 

"That sorb," thought Bulmer, "doesn't matter." 
So he ruled her out and listened to Mr. Wartle, who 
was now sorrowfully booming in his accustomed style. 

"What I particularly object to," said Mr. Wartle, 
"is the tone, Mr. Bulmer. For instance, that head- 
line — I hardly like to repeat it before ladies." 

"I don't mind repeating it," said Bulmer. "What's 
the matter with it? 'Join Us! We're a Live Lot/ 
Well, aren't we a live lot?" 

"That is not the question," said Mr. Wartle. 

"Oh yes, it is. We are a live lot. Miss Murrow, 
aren't we a live lot?" 

"Please address your remarks to Mr. Wartle," 
said Miss Murrow. 

"Oh, Mr. Wartle's business influences him," said 
Bulmer. "He's a dead lot." 

78 



« ZIP °£ 

Mr. Wartle smote the little bamboo table and 
bellowed something confused about personalities, 
but he was interrupted by Mrs. Tirril, who asked 
him where he had learned to swear before ladies. 
So Mr. Wartle retired in confusion, and henceforth 
hated Buhner the more, because Bulmer had caused 
him to break the commandment "Thou shalt be 
refined.' ' Yet Mrs. Tirril did not prove a Bulmerite. 
Her point was that the magazine was too heavy; 
it wasn't like Pick Me Up, but more like Drop Me 
Quick. 

When they had done there was a long silence. 
Everybody expected Bulmer to reply, and every- 
body wanted him to, for the committee did not wish 
him to resign; if he did, somebody else would have 
the bother of running the magazine for nothing. 
They were prepared, if he did try to resign, to soothe 
him and flatter him. But Bulmer said nothing; he 
merely stared at them with as much curiosity as he 
did at the beetles and butterflies in the taxidermist's 
case in Kilburn High Road. At last the elder could 
bear it no more and said over again everything 
the others had said. Then there was another silence, 
and Miss Murrow asked Bulmer if he had nothing 
to say. 

After a moment Bulmer got up and said: " Ladies 
and gentlemen, I haven't anything much to say, 
except that all this is twaddle. I am the editor of 
this magazine, and I am going to edit it. Also, I 
don't think much of it. It wants something more. 
It wants . . . zip." 

"Zip!" said Mr. Wartle, feebly. 

"Zip," said Bulmer, solemnly. "Ladies and gen- 

79 



*8? CALIBAN *8 

tlemen of the committee, I wish you . . . plenty of 
zip/' And, picking up his hat, he walked out. 

The committee sat for a little while after Buhner's 
departure. 

"What do you think he's going to do?" asked 
Miss Murrow. 

"I'm sure I don't know," said Mr. Wartle, 
gloomily. 

"What do you think he means by zip?" 

"I don't know," said Mr. Wartle. "Let's look 
it up in the dictionary." 

They could not find it in the dictionary, and so, 
by being unknown, zip acquired greater terrors. 
Except for Mrs. Tirril. There was about the word 
something pleasing, for she was sensitive to onoma- 
topoeia. 

Meanwhile Bulmer walked home, not only send- 
ing the committee to hell, but a growing prey to 
profound realizations. For the first time, he saw 
himself in the world by seeing himself inside a com- 
mittee. He realized clearly the abnormality of people 
on committees. It struck him that these people had 
formed the committee for five years, and that nobody 
ever stood against them. Therefore nobody else 
wanted to be on the committee. Therefore com- 
mittees were always minorities. Therefore — and 
here he was flooded with a conviction denied by 
Ibsen — the majority is always right. A hot feeling 
of enthusiasm rose in Bulmer as he thought of the 
magazine, the majority, stormy, many-headed, in- 
articulate, resplendent, the majority, beautiful and 
glorious, hundreds of them, millions of them, millions 
of people all alike, who'd think what they were told, 

80 



*8? ZIP <% 

and buy what they were told, and roll over the silly 
little minority like an elephant wallowing on a toad. 
He walked along Carlton Vale, swinging his arms 
and mouthing joyful speeches. His soul was full 
of idolatry. His heart felt all soft and open as he 
embraced the full sweetness of that majority which 
was always right, of that majority which could spring 
into life as the Sleeping Beauty under the kiss of 
Prince Charming, if only one gave it a little zip. 

Then Bulmer ceased to meditate, for he never 
meditated long, and, running up to his bedroom, 
prepared the head-line for the new issue. The first 
line in the usual lettering ran : 

JOURNAL OF THE N. W. LONDON LITERARY 
AND DEBATING SOCIETY 

Below this came, in colossai lettering: 

WE WANT MORE ZIP 

Then, content with his work, he went to bed, and 
next day at Thomas's Chop House had a long con- 
ference with Hawes. Results were immediate. The 
Journal was given zip. As the members were 
thought too stupid, half the next issue was written 
by Bulmer and Hawes. Until then the opening 
notes had appeared under the title, " Thoughts of 
the Day. ' ' These were converted into, ' ' Our Naughty 
Notes," and though they had to be padded out with 
the usual announcements of local lectures and books 
of the month, they were made palatable by special 

paragraphs. These gave a good deal of trouble, for 

81 



« CALIBAN "g 

Buhner's method was to look up the encyclopedia 
and see whether anybody had ever borne the names 
of his victims. Mr. Wartle apparently had no 
ancestors, and so Hawes had to touch him up in a 
dialogue where he figured persistently as Rosa Dartle 
and was questioned on this point: " Would Higher 
Education Increase the Length of Human Life? If 
so, would he still press for higher education?" Oc- 
casionally the unfortunate Rosa Dartle didn't know 
and was made to plead that she was so volatile. 

Mrs. Tirril was more easily managed, because 
Father Tyrrell had just become known, and so a 
strange compound of Orientalism and Jesuitical prac- 
tice was fastened upon the widow. As for Miss 
Murrow, they extracted some verses from Brill, who 
became a Bulmerite when required. As they were 
printed to rhyme with such words as " furrow" and 
"burrow," the verses went very well. And, to make 
the paper more emphatic, Bulmer printed at the 
bottom of every page: 

We Want Moke Zip 

The convulsions within the society did not reach 
Bulmer. At bottom, the society was delighted, for 
it hated its committee, and yet never stood against 
it, as they did not want to do any work. So they 
enjoyed seeing the committee touched up. Also, 
while deploring the tone, Mrs. Tirril was much 
amused by the references to Mr. Wartle and Miss 
Murrow. They, too, liked her immolation. But 
when, in the next issue, a jokes column was con- 
tributed by Hawes, and a horrid riddle reading, 

82 



*8 ZIP *% 

"When is a door not a door?" "When it's an 
egress/ 7 was printed as a tail-piece to Professor 
Stanton's article, "Fragments from Merrick/' the 
committee began to boil. At last Mr. Wartle's 
paper on "Mens sana in corpore sano" was returned 
with a slip, reading : 

JOURNAL OF THE N. W. LONDON LITERARY 
AND DEBATING SOCIETY 

We Want More Zip 

(Declined with Thanks) 

A general meeting of the society was called to take 
place in Mrs. Tirril's drawing-room. 

Buhner, sitting with Hawes, listened to the de- 
nunciations of his conduct, and was unabashed, 
though all eyes were turned on him when Mr. Wartle 
put the motion that he be asked to resign. 

"Before putting this action," said the elder, who 
was in the chair, "I think you will wish to hear Mr. 
Buhner on his defense." 

The young man got up quite readily, smiled at the 
assembly, and said: 

"When I took over this magazine about one in 
ten of you read it, and that one wouldn't have 
bought it if it hadn't been thrown in with the annual 
subscription. Do you read it now?" 
Yes," said one or two voices. 
I think it's disgraceful," said somebody else. 
Don't interrupt," said Buhner, quite uncon- 
scious that he had invited them to speak. "For I 

83 



ti 



a 



1? CALIBAN "8 

have very little to say. I say that the Journal wants 
zip. It's got it. If you like the magazine as I have 
made it, you'll vote against Rosa Dartle" (a few 
giggles); "if you don't like the magazine you'll vote 
against me. Now put your motion." 

The elder deplored that personalities should be 
introduced. This was a question of policy, not of 
persons. 

"Oh yes, it is," cried Bulmer, jumping up again. 
"Everything in this world's a question of persons. 
People think they vote for policy; they don't. They 
vote for men. People don't vote for Liberal, they 
vote for Rosebery. They don't vote Unionist, they 
vote for Salisbury. And so, to-night, you've got to 
vote for me or Rosa 1 Dartle. Be kind to her, she's 
so volatile." 

Half the meeting laughed, and for a long time the 
question could not be put because various young men 
wanted to deliver humorous speeches, while serious 
young women were disgusted by all this vulgarity. 
Also, the elder had many things to say which had 
been said before. When at last the question was 
put, and Mr. Wartle's motion declared carried on 
a show of hands, the majority was so small that the 
meeting immediately broke up into four or five 
groups, for the purpose of furious argument, while 
the elder vainly tolled the dinner-bell. It was Bul- 
mer pulled the meeting together by jumping on a 
chair and bawling: 

"Ladies and gentlemen, I've got the sack because 
I want to put zip into this magazine. Well, I've 
done with it, but I've not done with myself. I say 
the world wants zip, and the world shall have it." 

84 



% ZIP *g 

A few minutes later Bulmer and Hawes walked 
down Maida Vale. It was a bright, moonlit night, 
against which houses and trees stood out like lace. 
A soft calm rose. But Bulmer strode on, teeth 
clenched, and Hawes, thinking he was angry, said 
nothing. When they reached the corner of Carlton 
Vale and were about to say good night Hawes said : 

"Dick, what's zip?" 

Bulmer stared at him. "Zip? I don't know. But 
the public '11 want to know." 

"What do you mean, the public?" 

Bulmer did not look at him. With broad eyes he 
stared down Maida Vale, where the gas-lamps 
trembled like fireflies, and up which echoed the weary 
trot of the bus horses, broken by the rapid clip- 
trop-trop of hansoms returning from the theaters. 
The sound of traffic filled him with a delicious sense 
of life. People! Lots of people! Horses, and 
machines, and facts, and things. All round him 
millions of people and millions of houses. It was 
like being a little animal picked up by a large, 
friendly hand. He filled his lungs with the warm 
air. It was as if he embraced the City; London, 
that lay about him good-humored and negligent, 
with her long, slow limbs, and her puerile indolence. 

"Alf," he whispered, "I got an idea. Why drop 
it?" 

"How do you mean, why drop it? You've got 
the push, haven't you?" 

"Oh, I don't mean all those silly sheep. I mean 
this zip idea. Why drop it? Why don't we start 
a magazine and call it Zip?" 

The two young men looked at each other seriously. 

85 



*g CALIBAN °£ 

Through the practical mind of Hawes ran the idea 
that the first subscribers would probably be some of 
the silly sheep. That would give 'em a start, but 
Bulmer was carried away by an ungovernable ex- 
citement; for the first time he was faced with the 
idea that perhaps he might possess a magazine, 
something that would be his, that would embody 
him. He was thrilled by a sudden inrush of emo- 
tion, as if there were revealed to him a delight which 
he had suspected, yet never known. He was as a 
maiden on her bridal journey, all filled with this 
revelation. And if he had had a mystic revelation 
he might have seen in the blue-black sky that over- 
hung Maida Vale the magic word "Zip," painted in 
letters of fire upon the scattered, fleecy clouds, as at 
the hour of her death Felicite* pictured in the 
heavens the Holy Ghost in the shape of her pet 
parrot. 



Chapter IV 
Vi 

BULMER closed the front door with a pleasant 
sense of emergence into a lighter world. Be- 
hind him he left not only the hard, December day, 
the east wind that caught up dust and soiled paper 
in crackling whirlwinds at street corners, but also 
his weekly world, without savor or enterprise, Blake- 
ney, Sons & Co., the meaningless mercantilism of it 
all, meaningless because he did not direct it. And 
here, at home, this Saturday afternoon, he was to 
clasp, warm and fugitive as the dusky sweetness of 
a woman, this little shadow of what would soon be 
rich reality. As he hung up his hat he thought, 
"Two hours without anybody to bother." For Mrs. 
Buhner and Henrietta were at a matinee at Daly's, 
having doubtless waited outside the pit door, and 
there eaten their sandwiches. Only Eleanor would 
be at home, partly because she sniffed at any comedy 
that called itself "The Shop-girl," "The Dancing 
Girl," or any sort of girl, partly because, as Mrs. 
Buhner put it, the house could not be left. But she 
would not worry him. He could hear her in the 
drawing-room struggling with the second movement 
of the "Moonlight Sonata," and breaking down 

viciously. 
7 87 



*8 CALIBAN U 

So the dining-room was his. Generally he worked 
in his bedroom to avoid quarrels with his mother. 
But to-day he wanted the dining-room table, for the 
occasion was historic; he was to choose the format 
and cover of Zip. A little self-conscious, he laid his 
papers upon the table, and only when he sat down 
did he notice, squatting on the floor by the window, 
a figure which had turned its head for a moment 
and glanced at him, then bent down again to work. 
It was the upholsteress. For Mrs. Bulmer had at 
last realized that the horsehair was bursting out of 
the couch and that Mr. Bulmer' s arm-chair was in 
such a state that it was not safe to let a neighbor in. 
As the drawing-room was not always ready for 
visitors, something had to be done. So the uphol- 
steress was basting loose covers of brown cretonne 
with blue flowers, which Mrs. Bulmer said were not 
as pretty as they might be, but wouldn't show the 
dirt. For a moment Bulmer hesitated. This was a 
day when he wanted to be alone. He did not fear 
disturbance, for he could think clearly in Charing 
Cross Station if he thought of his own affairs; but, 
that afternoon, a certain sense of sacredness was 
upon him. He would go upon his knees to his 
monster. And that woman on the floor, the clipping 
noises she made with the scissors, annoyed him. 
But he knew he would not get the right effect on his 
washhandstand. The drawing-room, with Eleanor 
murdering that music? No. Resolutely he spread 
out the dummy sheets and the colored covers, tried 
to absorb himself. Yes, that was a good green. But, 
he thought: 

"Tit-Bits green. Of course, that wouldn't matter 

88 



1g VI « 

. . . but if Zip got on the stalls it would. Even 
though Zip is only to be a monthly. What about 
orange?" Then a faint sound on his left disturbed 
him. It went on. The woman was humming. 
Actually humming! Damn her! He glanced side- 
ways at the upholsteress, who, tacking the cover, 
went on: 

"I don't want to play in your yard, 
I don't like you any mo-er! 
You'll be sorry when you see me 
Swinging on our garden door." . . . 



Irritating. But what was he to do? Then he 
noticed that the door was shut, and remembered 
that his mother always liked the door open when 
there was a stranger in the house, because you never 
knew. So he opened it and sat down again. As he 
did this he saw the woman better, and her face 
pleased him. He guessed that she was rather short, 
but very broad — agreeably so. As she bent he saw 
that her neck was dark and thick, and that from her 
hair fainfc black down ran to her collar. He had a 
glimpse of rather coarse lips and a foreshortened 
nose, fine dark eyes which for a moment met his. 
But the devotional mood was still upon him, and once 
more he sat down. Only she disturbed him. He 
found himself listening as she went on: 



"You sha'n't holler down our rain-barrel, 
You sha'n't climb our apple-tree. 
I don't want to play in your yard 
If you won't be good to me.", 
89 



•g CALIBAN ]B 

He concentrated on the idea of money. It was 
all very well, but he was starting on a very little — 
forty-eight pounds saved up somehow during the 
years, and ten pounds borrowed from Hawes. And 
to obtain those ten pounds he had had to bully and 
cajole Hawes into believing that if he became a 
journalist he would get orders for the theaters. 
Fifty-eight pounds! And an issue, say five thousand 
to start with, wouldn't cost less than twenty-two 
pounds. That left thirty-six pounds working capi- 
tal with which to meet the costs of distribution and 
of the next issue. He'd have to make at least thirty 
pounds out of cash sales on the first issue. As for 
advertisements ... he couldn't tell until he saw 
Hawes. Then the woman stood up. As she did so 
Bulmer noticed with a thrill the fine, full curves of 
her body, and two strong, dark hands, which she 
placed on her hips as she stood back from the arm- 
chair, rejoicing, it seemed, in her work. Then she 
turned and said: 

"That's not bad, is it?" 

Bulmer looked at the arm-chair with an air of 
profound criticism and said: "No, it looks all right. 
Bit loose over the left arm, don't you think?" 

"Do you think so?" said the woman, patting the 
left arm. "No, it's not loose. It '11 settle. Look," 
and she patted it into place. 

Bulmer came closer and said, vaguely, "Oh yes, 
you're right." He was conscious of her rather more 
violently, of her deliberate air, and much more of 
the pleasant animality of her, the suggestion of 
abundant blood running under her dark skin; on 
the cheeks lay an apricot flush. He decided she was 

90 



« vi « 

ugly, and at the same time rested upon her a dis- 
turbed gaze. She smiled, and he liked her good, 
irregular teeth. 

"Well," she said, "that's done. Now for the sofa. 
That's a job." He watched her go to the sofa and 
measure it roughly. She interested him, but his 
major preoccupation ousted her. 

"Well," he said, with false ease, "I suppose you 
must go on with your work and I with mine." But 
he went on looking at her as if an instinct in him 
bade him force her to ask him what this work was. 
He couldn't very well tell her: "I am Richard Bul- 
mer. I am creating a magazine. I am a great 
man." But a sense of the appropriate told him that 
she ought to want to know those things. And, 
marvelously, she did not fail him, for, with half- 
unconcern, she said: 

"Oh, I suppose you mean all those papers." 

"Yes." 

"What are all those colored bits?" 

"Those," said Buhner, at last gaining relief, "are 
the proposed covers of my new magazine. It's 
called Zip, Of course you haven't heard of it yet 
. . . but you will." 

"I'm sure I shall," said the woman, smiling. "I 
read lots of them. I do love Answers." 

"Yes, yes," said Bulmer, hurriedly. "Answers is 
all right. But we want something new. Something 
with more zip." 

The dark eyes opened as she said, "What is zip?" 

"Zip?" said Bulmer. "Oh, well, it's not easy to 
explain. It means something with a lot of go. It 
means that . . . that you're on it like a bird. See 

91 



*« CALIBAN *8? 

what I mean? The latest, and a bit later than the 
latest, if you can work it." 

"Oh!" said the woman. "I see what you mean; 
something that's bang up-to-date." 

" You've got it," said Bulmer, delighted. "Mind 
you, it's not going to be a newspaper, only a monthly. 
But it '11 be all about the things that are in the 
newspapers; the things that everybody's talking 
about." 

" That's the idea," said the woman. "How clever 
of you to think of it." 

"Oh no," said Bulmer, "there's nothing clever 
about it. One only had to think of it." 

"What are you going to put in it?" said the 
woman. "Perhaps you oughtn't to tell me, but I 
do so want to know." 

"There's no harm in telling you," said Bulmer. 
"We want everybody to know. There's going to 
be jokes, and funny stories, and facts; oh, thousands 
of facts. If there's a coronation going on we'll tell 
you all about the other coronations, where they hap- 
pened, and who was there, and what they wore. If 
there's a good murder, we'll tell you how other 
famous murders were done. And who was killed. 
And by whom, and why it happened. And lots of 
interesting things, things like ... oh, anything ! how 
many cases of butterflies come into the country 
from Borneo, or how to tell an oak from a beech by 
the leaves, or ... or anything, everything. The 
things everybody wants to know." 

"Aren't there going to be any love-stories?" asked 
the woman. 

"Of course there will. Love's always up-to-date. 

92 






VI « 



But, mind you, nothing sloppy. Everything we'll 
put in '11 have zip." 

"How splendid!" said the woman. "You aren't 
one of the sleepy ones." 

"You bet," said Buhner, "we'll startle 'em. Look 
at these covers. We want a cover that '11 get off 
a book-stall and give you a black eye." 

"That orange one 'd do it," said the woman. 

"It might, but it's the same color as Answers, 
And the green one's no good, it's Tit-Bits. We don't 
want to be taken for Tit-Bits ," he added, in a tone of 
violent contempt. 

"That strawberry's pretty," said the woman. 

"That's no good. Same color as Pearson's Weekly 
and Modern Society. Besides, that pink '11 fade in 
the sun. It's got no zip. I want . . . oh, I don't 
know." He was not looking at her. His eyes fixed 
in space, Bulmer was dreaming of a color that would 
outshine gold and make crimson pallid. "It's no 
good," he said, miserably, as he fell from the dream 
into reality. "The people who made color didn't 
understand zip." 

"Cheer up," said the woman, "I'm sure you'll 
find what you want. What about egg yellow? Or 
... if you want to startle 'em, why not have 
spots?" 

"Spots!" said Bulmer, rapturously. "A green 
cover with pink spots! That's the idea. No, that 
wouldn't do; they'd say the paper had broken out 
into a rash. But you're right. It isn't color that 
matters, but how you use it. Look! Look!" and, 
excitedly seizing her by the wrist, he drew her to 
the table. Upon a plain blue sheet he drew under 

93 



« 



CALIBAN 



033 

«7 



the word "Zip" an enormous black circle, then drew 
back, holding it up. 




"It's lovely," he murmured. "They can't miss 
it." He turned on her gratefully. "I say, that was 
a good idea of yours." 

"I didn't think of it," said the woman. "I just 
said spots. It was you thought of it." 

"Never mind. It's a splendid idea. You see it, 
don't you?" 

"Oh yes, you couldn't miss that." 

"Of course one couldn't. You understand." He 
looked at her softly. It was exquisite to be so under- 
stood. Then he talked abundantly. He told her 
how much capital he had, how much the issue would 
cost, how he was going to make it up. "It's going 
to be a howling success," he said. "Of course you 
may say we sha'n't get it on the stalls, but that 
doesn't matter. I'm going to let small boys have it 
for the first month at a penny. That's what it costs 
me; and sell it at threepence outside the railway 
stations. It's a pity we can't afford a poster. We 
can't afford anything, but I'll sell it. I'm no juggins; 
I'm going to plant it on all the societies round about 
here, and I'm getting hold of people in the choirs, 
and the office-boys at my place are going to have a 
go with it outside the chop-houses and the A. B. C.'s 
in the city during the lunch hour. Might print a 

94 



u 

(( 



«? VI m 

special lot for that. What about a heading: 'Take 
Zip with your lunch; it makes it go down/ No, 
that wouldn't do; they'd only say, 'Take Zip with 
your lunch; it makes it come up.' No, we mustn't 
spoil it, must we, by adding anything?" 

"No," said the woman, "of course you mustn't." 
Ah, you understand what I mean," said Buhner. 
What's your name?" 

"Miss Elsted." 

"No, I don't mean that name. What's your other 
name?" 

The upholsteress looked at him through her black 
eyelashes and said: "You're getting on, aren't 
you? Still, I don't mind. My name 5 s Vi." 

"Vi," he said. "Short for Violet, I suppose." 
Then his eyes left hers, and for a moment he stood 
rapturous before the vision of the blue cover with the 
enormous black spot. Vi looked at him with a slow 
smile of understanding, and went to the sofa, where 
she knelt, loosely fitting the cretonne into place by 
means of pins, of which a little hedge stuck out from 
her mouth. WTien Eleanor came in, a few minutes 
later, this being her duty from time to time when 
there was a stranger in the house — she sniffed loudly, 
for she hated the litter of papers on the table. As 
for Richard, he did not look at her, so she went 
away. Had he not been so absorbed she might have 
found fault in the companionship. Also, there was 
something very respectable in the hedge of pins that 
protruded from Vi's lips. 

After supper that night, though, she thought it 
right to mention the matter to her mother, and a 
slight quarrel thus arose between her and Henrietta. 

95 



« CALIBAN « 

"You see love-making everywhere/ 7 said Hen- 
rietta, tartly. 

"So do you," said Eleanor. 

"I'm afraid it is everywhere," said Mrs. Buhner. 
"Still, of course, Richard would never commit him- 
self with a girl like that." 

Meanwhile Bulmer and Hawes, locked up in the 
bedroom, considered Bulmer' s bed, almost entirely 
covered with scraps of paper. Hawes sat at the 
washhandstand, converted into a writing-table. 

"Notes of the week to start," said Hawes. 

"Not a bit of it. Call them snippets." 

"Where are you going to get your snippets i'rom?" 

"From the papers. Here's one of them," said 
Bulmer, holding out a cutting from the Daily News, 
stating that a Crimean veteran had died in the work- 
house. "You just look up in the encyclopedia how 
many went to the Crimea and how many were in 
the Mutiny. And then look up a few more wars . . . 
and there you are." 

"Oh! ' fighting men, past and present.' Right-o!" 
said Hawes. "And let's have something to tickle 
the girls with. What about Rosherville Gardens 
compared with the Crystal Palace?" 

"That's the ticket. You dig out Vauxhall while 
I look up the C volume and find out about Cre- 
morne." 

They went on enthusiastically, searching the 
week's newspapers for anecdotes, noting dates of the 
opening of theaters, cutting out from the law cases 
the figures quoted by the parties in a dressmaker's 
action — on this they based an article called "What 
women spend on clothes." A sort of hysteria seized 

96 



*g VI « 

them. An ecstatic realization of the enormous abun- 
dance of facts, of the passionate interest of facts. 
At half past ten Mrs. Buhner knocked at the door, 
then violently rattled the handle when she found it 
locked. 

"What do you mean by locking your door?" 

"Well, why shouldn't I lock my door?" asked 
Bulmer. 

"There's no need to lock your door," said Mrs. 
Bulmer, who discerned in this a wilful insult. "And 
what are you doing, you two?" 

Bulmer grinned: "Zip, mother, zip. Hawes and 
I are going to fill you with zip." 

"Never heard such nonsense in my life. Wasting 
your time, both of you, when you might be doing 
something useful. How do you expect to get on if 
you don't make yourselves useful to your employer? 
If you were to learn bookkeeping or German, I 
shouldn't say. You're wasting your time and you'll 
lose your money, and don't say I didn't tell you so. 
How much longer are you going to be? " 

"All night," said the fervent Bulmer. 

It took them some time to get rid of Mrs. Bulmer, 

who went at last, slamming the door, intoning as she 

went down-stairs a diminishing song: "Perfectly 

ridiculous. Never heard of such nonsense," but they 

locked the door again, and more notes were made, 

and a column as advanced as Miss Murrow's was 

set up. And it was decided to offer a monthly prize 

of five pounds for a short story which Hawes was to 

write, though, of course, he wouldn't get the prize. 

And they decided to find another poet. Brill was 

hopeless. 

97 



*8 CALIBAN IB 

"Good God!" said Buhner, "what does the fellow 
think he's doing? Listen to this rot: 

"As a robin in the winter-time 
My heart . . ." 

Oh, he makes me sick. You know the sort of thing 
we want, Alf; something about holding hands on 
Brighton Pier. Bub never mind, we'll find one. 
After all, we can do without a poet in the first issue. 
There's no zip in poetry. Not really. Oh, Alf, I do 
wish the thing was out. We are going to have a 
time." 

"Ah," said Hawes, "we're bound to sell the first 
lot." 

"How's that?" asked Bulmer. 

"One always sells the first issue. It's the second 
that doesn't go. When they've stopped being 
curious." 

"We'll make 'em curious. We'll give 'em zip. 
Alf, if we sell that five thousand, I'm going to print 
ten thousand next time." 

"Seems a lot." 

"Not a bit of it. That's only the beginning. 
We're going to sell fifty thousand a month, a hun- 
dred thousand a month, and then, old boy, you'll 
see the advertisements rolling in." 

They rediscussed the format, discarded and re- 
adopted the cover, quarreled as to whether there 
should be two columns to a page or three. They 
even began the serial. It started magnificently, with 
a millionaire being found scalped in Park Lane, 
while next day a tramp was found in a similar con- 
dition near East India Dock. 

98 



<$ vi IS 

" That'll raise their hair," said the facetious 
Hawes. 

But they prudently decided to solve the mystery 
before printing the first instalment. They talked 
loudly in the brilliant winter night, more and more 
excited, more and more hopeful, and every moment 
more secure in their successful youth. The twelve 
sheets were ill filled, for they were novices and did 
not know that publications can never be what one 
hopes. They were thrilled and anxious before those 
blank sheets, upon which they were to inscribe 
themselves. 

At last, a little before dawn, when the avaricious 
night was yielding in the eastern horizon to a green 
pallor, Buhner threw up the sash and looked away 
across the rising houses of Swiss Cottage; filled his 
lungs with the cold air. He smiled in slight hos- 
tility, and said: 

" We'll give 'em zip. They don't know what 
they're in for. They don't understand." For a 
moment he thought of the dark, heavy face of the 
one woman who so far understood. " She's no fool," 
he thought. "Fine pair of eyes." Then, again, he 
grinned at the lightening sky, and murmured, 
"We'll give 'em zip." 



Chapter V 
A Kiss 

THERE was zip, now, in every moment of Bul- 
mer's life; zip, indeed, except in the circulation 
of Zip. Hawes was right; the first number suc- 
ceeded, and made a clear profit of twenty-one pounds, 
allowance being made for unsold returns. The sec- 
ond number, though better supported — for the first 
had brought in a few advertisements — showed a 
drop in circulation of nearly a thousand copies 
and a deficit of two pounds. The young editors 
nearly dissolved their partnership, because Hawes 
said: 

"What's the matter, is the paper too tame? They 
want smut. Let's start a series, 'Gay Nights by 
the Gaiety/ " 

"Don't talk rot," said Buhner. "You know quite 
well that sort of paper sells a bit, but it never goes 
on." 

"Yes, it does. There's always a demand for hot 
stuff." 

"Well, you'd better go and start one yourself," 
said Bulmer. "What circulation do you think we'd 
get out of smut? Twenty thousand? thirty thou- 
sand? I don't say they don't want smut. Of 

course they do. But they daren't buy it. Too 

100 



*g A KISS " * " "'« 

damned respectable. Too much afraid that some one 
will see them with it in the Underground." 

"Well, call it The Bible News, and then you can 
put in what you like," said Hawes. 

The wrangle lasted for a long time and was 
stopped only by Mrs. Buhner, who banged the wall 
at intervals and asked how much longer this was 
going on. In the end Buhner managed to make 
Hawes understand that if one wanted a large cir- 
culation (and what was the good of life without a 
large circulation?) one wasn't likely to get it except 
out of the home, and family, and dogs, and gardens, 
and how to make a chest of drawers out of egg-boxes. 
Living in those early days of popular magazines he 
had enough instinct to learn the lesson of Answers 
and Tit-Bits. A personal revelation told him that 
mankind did not really care for politics, but for 
politicians; nor about religion, but about comic 
curates. With rapturous certainty he realized that 
most human beings hated their work, and that by 
natural reaction they loved the pleasures accessible 
to them — home carpentry, the rosebush, tasty, 
cheap dishes. Sometimes, when he walked north of 
Regent's Park, toward Highgate, he looked at the 
rows of villas that were just running up, and told 
himself that all those houses were alike, all those 
gardens alike ; thus they must be let to people whose 
tastes were all alike. If one could discover that 
taste one would be able to sell the same publication 
all along the row, just as one sold the same quality 
of tea. And sometimes, standing upon Primrose 
Hill and watching London, that brooded in her misty 

hollow, he rejoiced as he thought of those millions 

101 



*g CALIBAN jl? 

of people, all alike, desirous of unity. It was an 
excited, half-sacred feeling, as if he and Zip had a 
mission to unite them. 

And he was right, for the third number made a 
small profit. In the fourth he invested all his profits ; 
he sold it by means of sandwich-men, who also ex- 
hibited boards. This beat the circulation of the first 
number, but earned a net profit of only nine pounds. 
It was on the Saturday that he realized with sudden 
certainty that Zip was going to float. He had come 
back at half past six, exhausted, less by labor than 
by excitement. When he came into the dining-room 
he found Vi relining the curtains, and at once an 
aching desire invaded him to tell her what was hap- 
pening. But, as if some suspicion were in them, Mrs. 
Bulmer and Henrietta sat at the dining-room table; 
his mother was removing with benzine stains from 
one of his waistcoats, while Henrietta absently 
turned the leaves of The Family Friend. He stared 
at them angrily, but they took no notice of him. 
Nor did Vi even look up. On her hands and knees, 
she went on fitting the lining to the worn damask. 
For some time he looked at her, half held by the 
fine curves of her figure and the dark neck shadowed 
with black down. He moved about the room, open- 
ing books, sitting down to read, and getting up again. 
He nearly lit a cigarette, until he remembered that 
this was disapproved of; he was suffering intolerable 
pangs; he wanted to talk of his own affairs, and 
could not. 

At last he thought, "This place is choking me," 
and left the house, unconscious that behind this 
thought lay the knowledge that Vi would have done 

102 



°e A KISS 






her work in a few minutes and would come out. He 
stood for a moment at the corner of Portsdown Road. 
He was not hiding, exactly, but the pillar-box stood 
between him and the house. He found no excite- 
ment in this adventure, nor shame in hiding and 
deceiving. Buhner seldom harbored more than one 
idea at a time, and that idea was always very strong. 
Now he knew that he wanted to talk to Vi about 
Zip, that he would wait until she came out. Five 
minutes; or an hour. And it might rain. It might 
rain potatoes, for all he cared . . . but he was going 
to talk to Vi about Zip. 

He did not have to wait long. A dark figure out- 
lined itself on the holystoned steps, and, on passing 
the gate, turned to the right. Bulmer did not hesi- 
tate; confident that speed would save discovery, 
he ran back along Carlton Vale and, catching the 
girl up at the corner of Cambridge Road, seized 
her by the arm and said, "I say, I want to talk 
to you." 

She had not started, though no understanding 
existed between them. It was part of her calm ac- 
ceptance of things that she should say nothing. It 
was obvious to her that the young man wanted to 
make love to her. She reflected that she didn't 
mind. His fairness, his slight, supple frame, ap- 
pealed to her dark slowness. So, while Bulmer for 
a moment forgot her, she walked on with him, a 
little moved and flattered, and wondered in what 
way he would declare himself. He said: 

"Have you read Zip?" 

As she opened her mouth to say no, her femininity 
warned her that it was safe to lie, for he would tell 

8 103 



H CALIBAN « 

her enough about it to save her exposure. So she 
said, "Yes, it's fine." 

"Oh, I'm so glad you think so!" said Bulmer. 
She smiled, attracted by the light in his eyes. 

"It's going to be a success," said Bulmer. "A 
howling success." He went over the contents of 
the first four numbers, breaking off into enthusiastic 
demands that she should laugh at this joke, or be 
amused by the persistence of Hawes digging out of 
time-tables record railway runs. As they went 
down Walterton Road and across the canal bridge to 
Westbourne Park, he talked in a more febrile tone. 
Zip was going to make thirty pounds a month, 
forty pounds a month. It was going to be sold 
everywhere. Not only in London, but in the prov- 
inces. Football! there was something in football. 
What about prizes for forecasts of the cup-tie re- 
sults? And women! one mustn't forget women. 
Paper patterns! What about a paper pattern as a 
supplement? They stopped for a moment at West- 
bourne Park Station, and, solemnly, Bulmer said: 
"There's going to be something in it for every man, 
woman, or child. Children! I'd forgotten children. 
We must have a children's corner. Tote! Tiny 
tots, that's it." 

She was three years older than he, and she looked 
at him with amusement, half -maternally; then, still 
led by her instinct, she remembered that this issue 
had invaded the book-stalls of the Metropolitan 
Railway. So she said, "Wait for me a minute," and 
went into the station. She came out, carrying the 
magazine with the electric-blue cover and the great 
black pod. 

104 



« A KISS 1? 

The young man did not speak, but in his throat 
something moved, and a soft, warm feeling over- 
whelmed him. They went a few steps side by side. 
The spring night was very dark; instinctively they 
turned to the right down a street just past a public- 
house, and lined with untidy gardens. They stopped. 
There was nobody about, and in the darkness, as 
she stood holding the magazine, whose blue was 
muted into gray, he saw the gleam of her teeth as 
she smiled and a gentle radiance rise from her dark 
eyes. Without a word he put his arms round the 
broad shoulders and, as she resisted not at all, 
drew her close. So, for a while he held her clasped, 
his lips locked with hers, gratefully rather than pas- 
sionately. He was very happy. He was successful, 
and his senses were greatly stirred by the scent, 
half artificial and half animal, that rose from her 
dark hair. 

At last she said : "Let me go. I must go." 

"Where do you live?" he asked, suddenly de- 
scending from his elevated mood. 

She told him, then again said: "Let me go. Yes, 
you shall see me again if you like." 

"When?" 

"This day week." 

"No," cried Buhner, urgently. He did not yet 

hunger for her, but already she was precious, because 

in a skeptical world she alone believed in him; they 

were joined as solitary votaries of Zip. Half smiling, 

she said, "Friday." He begged for the next day, 

and at last, day by day, she instinctively refusing, 

and he instinctively pressing, they settled that he 

should meet her outside Peter Robinson's on the 

105 



°$ CALIBAN j£ 

Monday. For Vi was employed at Liberty's, and 
this explained why she worked for Mrs. Buhner 
always on a Saturday afternoon. She took a few 
private jobs. 

"Now," she said, "really you must let me go." 
She considered him for a moment without freeing 
herself. He pleased her. Her slow nature rejoiced 
in his activity. She told herself that he had go . . . 
or zip, as he put it. He was a funny boy. She 
realized that he must be her junior, but his caresses 
had quickened in her some activity. So she mur- 
mured again: "Let me go. You mustn't follow me 
home. It wouldn't look well." Half shyly, she 
stroked his cheek, kissed him lightly, and with a soft 
movement freed herself and went away. 

Buhner remained for a long time standing where 
she had left him, staring abstractedly at the Middle 
Class Shcools. He felt large and secure. Together 
with his certainty of success the caresses ran ardent 
through his veins. Before his eyes unrolled the 
pageantry of his coming victories. He laughed aloud, 
and, swinging his stick, walked back toward Carlton 
Vale, humming one of the ditties he had learned from 
Hawes: 

'Come where the booze is cheapest! 

Come where the pots hold more, 
Come where the boss 
Is a bit of a joss, 

And I don't remember no more." . . . 

On the Monday morning, five minutes after arriv- 
ing at the office, he went in to Mr. Blakeney, and 
gave him a week's notice. 

106 



Chapter VI 
The High Road 

FOR several days Bulmer concealed his resigna- 
tion from his family. Though this subject had 
never been discussed — because it never occurred to 
anybody that he would do such a thing, and because 
his mother and sisters looked upon Zip as an irri- 
tating hobby, he had no reason to reveal his vague 
plans. Now, when he thought of it, which was not 
often, he saw that the news would probably be ill 
received. He felt that his family did not like Zip. 
He had compelled them to read it, and watched them 
while they did it, like an anxious dog at the dinner- 
table. And when Eleanor said, "Very nice," and put 
it down on the sofa, while Mrs. Bulmer remarked 
that this or that was very well written, he was 
grateful. He was angry with Eleanor, but still he 
fixed upon her eyes that were half appealing. He 
did so badly want her to like Zip. He wanted to 
please her, partly because it would make him proud 
to please her, and partly just to please her. He had 
questioned his mother and both his sisters, point by 
point, to discover whether there was anything in 
the paper they objected to and anything else they 
would like to find. 

"They are the public," he thought. "If one only 

107 • 



* CALIBAN 






knew!" He had dreams in which he knew exactly 
what the public wanted, a monstrous sort of public 
with staring eyes, and a great, loose mouth, and no 
brain. A dream very like the reality. He did not 
hate the creature with the silly eyes, for it was a 
large creature that could be pleased, made up of 
millions of grown men and women that would crow 
like babies if only you shook the right rattle. A 
creature that slobbered over its bib, and cooed with 
content over the results of races which it didn't bet 
on, and pictures of the underclothes of actresses in 
another continent, and details of the weddings of 
royalties it had never seen. Bulmer tolerated the 
British public, and saw no harm in its imbecile look 
when confronted with a new idea, in its mean re- 
vengefulness, its keyhole curiosities, and its lick- 
spittle snobberies. He felt that the British public 
was like a great ape, begging you to scratch it, and 
he was willing to scratch it; after all, perhaps the 
poor thing itched. 

He knew that it would be a little difficult to ex- 
plain that sort of thing to Mrs. Bulmer, so, for four 
days, he left the house at the usual time and re- 
turned in the evening, spending the day in going 
round book-stalls and asking indignantly why they 
hadn't got Zip, and when they were going to get up- 
to-date. But at the end of three days he had done 
with most of the book-stalls, and also it began to 
rain. It was wet for the whole of the third day. 
And the fourth day it rained still more heavily; so, 
on the fifth, realizing that he could not go on spend- 
ing hours in public libraries and Underground sta- 
tions, he decided to tell. If Bulmer had been a 

108 



•g TH E HIGH ROAD V 

coward the telling would have been more fortunate, 
for he would have schemed a suitable moment; but 
as his main desire was to avoid giving pain, he told 
the truth in a sentence at the worst possible moment. 
He did it five minutes before supper, when Mrs. 
Buhner was unnecessarily interfering with Hettie in 
the kitchen, and walking round and round her, 
begging her not to drop the triangular cover of the 
potato-dish, because it couldn't be matched. Mean- 
while, Eleanor, in the bedroom, was screaming down 
the stairs because somebody had taken her soap. 

"What . . . what do you mean, left?" asked Mrs. 
Buhner, holding the soup-tureen. 

"I have left the office." 

"Do you mean to say you've been dismissed?" 
asked Mrs. Buhner, while Henrietta remained in a 
frozen attitude, holding high the lid of the stew-pot. 

"Of course I haven't got the sack. I've sacked 
Blakeney, Sons & Co." 

"You've . . ." gasped Mrs. Buhner. She was too 
surprised to be angry just then. She could under- 
stand Dick being dismissed, but the idea of his 
leaving of his own free will was one she could not 
compass. So, forgetting him, and absorbed by this 
idea, she went up the kitchen stairs, carrying the 
soup-tureen. It was only a few minutes later that 
the silence gave place to debate. 

"Perhaps," said Mrs. Buhner, "you'll tell me why 
you've done this, since you didn't think it worth 
while consulting me." 

"Oh, if I'd consulted you you'd only have 
objected." 

"That's a pretty reason. You know I would 

109 



% CALIBAN ]i? 

object to a thing, and you do it without telling me. 
Without telling me! And I'd like to know what 
you're going to do now." 
"I'm going to run Zip." 

After a moment of horrible silence Eleanor said: 

"The boy's cracked. Let him alone, mother." 

"I shall certainly not let him alone," said Mrs. 

Buhner. "I'm not sure you're not right about his 

being cracked, Ellie. Still, perhaps it's not too late." 

1 ' Of course it's too late," said Bulmer, angrily. " I 

was paid my last week and I haven't been to the 

office for five days." 

"Oh, where have you been to, then?" 
"Oh, I just messed about. I didn't want to let 
on at first." 

"Deceiving me!" said Mrs. Bulmer. "That 
ought not to surprise me, considering what you've 
done." 

The discussion went on all through supper, inter- 
rupted by the entrance or exit of one or other of the 
girls as they went down-stairs to fetch the stew, and 
then the apples and custard. Henrietta did not say 
very much, and Bulmer suspected that she sympa- 
thized with him. But whenever Eleanor came in or 
went out she flung in a remark. The first was, "I 
suppose we shall have to keep him." The second, 
"That's what comes of loafing in billiard-saloons." 
When supper was done Mrs. Bulmer expanded : She'd 
never heard of such a thing. She had never dreamed 
of such a thing. She was ashamed; yes, ashamed. 
It was his father coming out. Then she wept a little, 
and an interlude was provided because she had lost 

her little bag with her handkerchief in it. The scene 

no 



% THE HIGH ROAD ]B 

terminated when Eleanor and Henrietta returned 
after washing up, for Eleanor remarked: "I expect 
Mr. Hawes hasn't given up his position. Some peo- 
ple know which side their bread's buttered." 

"Mind your own damn business," shouted Buhner, 
leaping out of his chair. 

"There you are, mother," said Eleanor, with acid 
sweetness. "Now he swears at his sisters." 

"I'll knock your head off, Ellie," said Buhner, "if 
you don't shut up." 

But his anger passed, for he wanted Eleanor to 
approve of him; he was too excited and insecure to 
do without even such an ally. An immense desire 
to show himself reasonable invaded him. 

"Look here, Ellie," he said, "for Heaven's sake 
don't let's quarrel. I've got my way to make, and 
I must make it as I think best. If I fail, it's my 
fault. You go out giving piano-lessons because you 
choose to. Suppose you wanted to live out on your 
own and keep yourself, I'd have nothing to say 
against it." 

"I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing," said 
Eleanor. "Not if mother wanted me at home." 

"But suppose we were well off and you had your 
future to think of?" 

"I should think of my duty first," said Eleanor. 

"You'll be saying it's my duty to stick at that office 
because mother wants me to." 

"My wishes should certainly have a little weight 
with you, Dick," said Mrs. Bulmer, plaintively. 
"And I'll be obliged if you won't put ideas into 
Ellie's head. I know it's the fashion nowadays to 
talk about girls leaving their home and earning their 

ill 



*g CALIBAN K 

own living, and having careers, as they call it. 
Stuff and nonsense ! Of course a man's different ; he's 
got to get on. Girls . . . well, your sisters have got 
a good home. Of course, if they marry . . ." 

Then they returned to the consideration of Bul- 
mer's behavior, and Eleanor, a little soothed by hav- 
ing been allowed to state her beautiful motives, grew 
more comforting. Eleanor was acid in her rectitude, 
because she was always being shocked by the atro- 
cious behavior of other people. She was herself 
entirely conscientious, wholely self-sacrificing; so 
long as she was awake she was willing to earn money 
for her family, or to work in their kitchen; she had 
no personal ambition, no sense of exciting romance. 
But as she was not introspective, she assumed that 
other people felt as she did. And when she con- 
tinually discovered that they were not self-sacrific- 
ing, that they were impulsive and greedy, she grew 
infuriated, and reviled and persecuted them because 
they did not live up to the ideal character she had 
forced on them. 

So the discussion was resumed, and everything 
that had been said twice was said again. During 
the next few days it was resumed again and again, 
on a diminishing strain of anger and a growing strain 
of fatalistic regret. 

"It's no good crying over spilled milk," said Mrs. 
Buhner. 

"Least said soonest mended," said Eleanor. 

"You can have some of the verses out of my album 
if you want something for Zip," said Hettie. 

Bulmer did not suffer much from this domestic 
convulsion. He was too preoccupied with the maga- 

112 



% THE HIGH ROAD % 

zine; the advance orders for the coming issue were 
rather low. He was spending a good deal of money 
in ordering copies at book-stalls, in the hope that 
this demand would induce them to take it in, but 
evidently this was not a success; in the evening he 
stared with hostility at the growing pile of back 
numbers in his bedroom. Also, the small boys were 
not satisfactory. They lacked sense of responsi- 
bility, dropped copies in the mud and, when remon- 
strated with, deserted and began to sell The Star or 
The Sun. And two sandwich-men, intoxicated by 
their sales, disappeared with the proceeds. 

"Alf, old boy," said Bulmer, one evening, "this 
won't do. We can't get thirty shillings a week out 
of this, and the worry's bringing my weight down as 
if I was doing banting. We got to expand. We 
got to advertise. Make the thing known." 

"How are we going to do that without capital?" 
asked Hawes. 

"Oh, it wouldn't need much. You can get a two- 
inch double-col. ad. in any paper for thirty shillings. 
Say six of those in thirty papers, three days before 
and three days after the issue. What about that?" 

1 ( Well, what about it? Six times thirty's a hundred 
and eighty, and six times a hundred and eighty is over 
a thousand. Where's your fifteen hundred quid?" 

"Oh, we needn't do it now. What about making 
a start in a small way? Look here, Alf, I'll sell you 
a half -share for . . . for . . . well, I won't do that, 
but what do you say to taking a debenture on the 
paper? Lend me a hundred quid and I'll give you 
six per cent, for your money and first call on the 
assets of the paper." 

113 



« CALIBAN ]B 

"Show me the assets,' ' said Alf. 

"Oh, it's as safe as houses." 

"Well, I haven't got a hundred quid/' said Hawes. 
"What you want, Dick, is a mug." 

"Do you know a mug? Alf, if you can make any- 
body cough up five hundred quid I'll give you ten 
per cent, commission." 

The two young men became thoughtful ; they con- 
sidered the few rich men they knew. But the days 
went on; the publican at Putney told Hawes that 
he'd lend him capital when the clouds rolled by. 
Uncle Hesketh was approached, and sent a letter of 
four pages in which he explained that journalism 
was already overcrowded. He added a postscript 
to say (quite gratuitously) that he had no influence 
in breweries now. They thought of approaching 
Mr. Blakeney, but Hawes objected. "I'm not going 
to be mixed up," he said. 

Inspiration came to Bulmer as he was shaving, 
and the feeling was so revolutionary that he went 
over the left side of his face twice and over the right 
side only once. All that day he worked in an ex- 
cited dream. He went up and down Kilburn High 
Road, staring at the place where he would achieve, 
but, though he had chosen his time carelessly when 
he told the truth to Mrs. Bulmer, his faculties were 
more alert now that his interests were involved. At 
five minutes to seven, just before the shop closed, 
he passed jauntily among the coffins and funeral 
urns. Mr. Wartle immediately composed his ex- 
pression of cherubic melancholy into one of aloof in- 
difference, tempered with interest; for it occurred 
to him at once that, after what had happened, Bul- 

114 



*8 THE HIGH ROAD « 

mer would enter his shop only on business. Perhaps 
Mrs. Bulmer was dead. 

"May I have a word with you, Mr. Wartle, after 
you've closed?" asked Bulmer, detachedly. 

" Certainly/ ' said Mr. Wartle, and became busy 
with instructions to the men in the back shop. 
"Now, then, how much longer are you going to be 
about the shutters? Tom, don't forget to call for 
the brass plates as you come up to-morrow morn- 
ing." Then he stroked an oak lid and remarked, 
as if to himself, "Fine stuff, fine stuff; best in the 
trade. When the men had gone he turned toward 
Bulmer; his expression forgave nothing, but invited 
confidence. He listened to the end, and, as he lis- 
tened, his rancor receded. Still, as a matter of prin- 
ciple, he said, "I think it's all toinmyrot." 

"Look here/' said Bulmer, "you're a business 
man, Mr. Wartle. You want to make money, same 
as I do. I say that if I've managed to make this 
thing pay without any staff, without any offices, and 
without any advertisements, a small sum, say a 
thousand, will put it on its feet, and pay Heaven 
knows what. Thirty per cent., fifty per cent. — I 
don't know." 

"I don't like the way in which you conduct your 
paper," said Mr. Wartle, memories of the Journal 
regaining strength. "I think journalism should be 
taken as a solemn responsibility. The business of 
publication should not be undertaken lightly, for 
one gains over the people an influence which ought 
to be uplifting." He went on for a long time, grow- 
ing less and less melancholy as he expounded the 
ideal publication, a touching compound of Great 

115 



*g CALIBAN *8 

Thoughts by Great Thinkers. Bulmer cleverly lis- 
tened to the end, then said: " Yes, I quite agree with 
you. Only don't you think popular taste is rather 
low?" 

"I'm afraid it is," said Mr. Wartle. 

"Then don't you think it's your duty to go slow? 
To lead 'em upward, you know. By starting on 
their level, only starting, mind you. Besides," he 
added, negligently, "on thirty thousand copies, with 
a good advertising manager, we ought to make about 
four or five hundred a year net. Say fifty per cent.; 
say forty, to be on the safe side." 

After a long pause Mr. Wartle said: "After all, 
it would be enough if it was elevating in parts, 
wouldn't it, Mr. Bulmer? Look here, you and I 
didn't always get on. But I say, let bygones be 
bygones. Mind you, that doesn't mean that I say 
ditto to everything you do, but you come along with 
me to a friend of mine. His name's Mr. Cole. He's 
in the printing line, and he's got his head screwed on 
the right way. Festina lente, Mr. Bulmer; you know 
what that means, you being a classical scholar." 

Mr. Cole was a small printer established near 
Baker Street Station, a furtive little man with small 
eyes and a mind insidious as a gimlet. He raised 
difficulties for an hour and a half, looking at them 
sideways, as if this made his vision more piercing. 
Nothing was done the first evening, and for three 
days Bulmer lived in agony, and for the first time 
knew insomnia. On the fourth day Mr. Cole wrote 
that he'd have nothing to do with his wildcat 
scheme. On the fifth Mr. Wartle intimated that 
there was still hope. On the sixth negotiations were 

116 



« THE HIGH ROAD Id 



resumed. They broke down several times, first 
because Bulmer wanted a salary of two pounds ten 
a week, which Mr. Cole said was more than the past 
profits; when this had been compromised for forty- 
five shillings a week trouble arose over paper. 

"I can get you your paper pretty cheap/' said 
Mr. Cole. 

"No, you don't," said Bulmer. "I buy it my- 
self." 

' ' Quite impossible, ' ' said Mr. Cole. ' c Quite against 
trade practice." 

"Very likely. I suppose it's also trade practice 
to charge me ten or fifteen per cent, overhead costs 
on that paper." 

"Naturally," said Mr. Cole, with a broad gesture. 
He was beaten in the end, for Mr. Wartle realized 
at once that the commission on paper would come 
out of his share of profits. So Mr. Cole compromised 
by undertaking to deliver the paper at cost, reserv- 
ing his right to combine the paper order with his 
own orders, so as to get a rebate on quantity. 

Then Mr. Cole demanded the right to insert ad- 
vertisements of his own; they compromised by giv- 
ing him half a page with a thirty-shilling rebate on 
schedule price. 

Bulmer and Mr. Wartle shook hands outside 
Baker Street Station. Bulmer thought, "No damned 
mind improvement in Zip," and said, "Mr. Wartle, 
we'll be a force." Then, promptly, he walked away 
toward the west; Zip was a weekly, a real weekly, 
no wretched monthly now. Three months' printing 
credit at Mr. Cole's . . . five hundred quidlets from 
old Wartle to shove the paper, to give it zip! He 

117 



•g CALIBAN °$ 

smiled at the light night sky. "By Jove!" he 
thought, " We'll give 'em zip." And an immense 
desire to shout aloud in Marylebone Road filled him. 
He would have liked, like the newspaper sellers, to 
stand at the street corner and shout: "Zip! one 
penny! Extra special Zip! " But he couldn't do it. 
He hadn't even a copy to sell. He wished Hawes 
were with him, but Hawes had long left the city 
and would not be at home. He'd be on the razzle 
up west. He wondered how they'd take it at home. 
Five hundred pounds! that 'd make mother sit up 
and Ellie shut up. He looked about him, undecided. 
He realized that his family would not enjoy the news 
as they should. They'd tell him it was a lot of money 
and he'd have to be careful, and other discouraging 
things. He felt alone and rather miserable, in spite 
of his delight. He told himself that all men are alone 
in the world, just bits of scattered crowd. Some- 
times, if one was lucky, one came up against another 
bit. And then the two bits joined up, and then 
everything was all right. He struggled for a moment 
with this mangled form of romantic idealism, then 
remembered — somebody understood him, somebody 
cared. Vi! why hadn't he thought of her? He had 
not seen her for several weeks. He'd taken her out 
a few times; they had been to the Metropolitan and 
other-music halls. And on a Sunday afternoon he 
had sculled with her from Hampton Court to Sun- 
bury. They had had tea at the " Flowerpot," and 
he had kissed her very often on the way to Sunbury 
Station; then forgotten all about her. 

"Fve been too busy," he thought. Now he 
wanted her intensely. She would know, she would 

118 



vq) 



*8 THE HIGH ROAD $ 



understand. So, impatiently, he ran to the Under- 
ground and chafed in the smoky, smutty atmosphere, 
until he reached Royal Oak and ran on to Cornwall 
Road. 

She came down to see him in the passage. AH 
through their dialogue Buhner was conscious of the 
landlady, whose footsteps down the kitchen stairs 
numbered only five or six. They must be very 
short kitchen stairs. Vi was, at first, rather cold, 
because, when called down, she had not understood 
it was a man wanted her. So she was still wearing 
her oldest bodice. 

"What do you want me to come out with you 
for?" she asked, ungraciously. 

"Please, please," said Buhner. "I can't tell you 
here," and jerked his head toward the kitchen stairs. 

"Is it raining?" asked Vi, still sulky. 

"No. Hurry up." 

They walked along Cornwall Road, he telling her 
in one breathless sentence what had happened. As 
he spoke, as the soft spring night loosened by its 
sweetness the hard crust of her disturbance, Vi was 
moved by the young man's excitement, by the ra- 
pidity of his words. Under a lamp-post she smiled 
at him. He said, "Vi, aren't you pleased?" 

"I think you're splendid," she replied. He looked 
at her for an instant, rejoicing in her blunt, dark 
features, in the sleepy eyes and the dark mouth, 
whose dewy fragrance he remembered. Then he 
took her face between his hands and said: "I knew 
you'd be pleased. You care. You do care, don't 
you . . . and you care for me a bit? " 

"You know I do," said Vi, quite honestly, and told 



119 



*$ CALIBAN *8? 

herself with superficial emotion that he was a nice 
boy. 

"Then," he said, impulsively, "I can't let you go. 
I love you, Vi. Marry me; say you'll marry me." 

She let him draw her closer, and did not at once 
reply. Her mind worked evenly enough. She was 
good-tempered, with a touch of sullenness. She 
badly wanted to do what she liked, to go to the 
shops and have bus rides in the afternoon. She 
wanted things; many things; new buckles, and 
money for chocolates. She was tired of upholster- 
ing, tired of work and being ordered about. She 
thought, "He'll get on." And, also, now he was 
kissing her bent neck and playing with her hair. 
She liked the touch of him, his urgency, his nimble- 
ness. 

"I don't mind," she said, slowly. 

He went home very late, his mind feverish. He 
was going to be the editor of a weekly; he was going 
to marry the woman who understood him. And 
things were so exciting. There was going to be a 
motor-car race between Paris and Rouen. He'd 
have to have something about that in Zip. What 
a wonderful world it was! And about his lips still 
clung the half-scented, half-animal flavor of the 
kisses. 



Chapter VII 
Scissors and Paste 

RICHARD BULMER sat back in the editorial 
arm-chair, of which one leg was rather loose. 
Zip had just gone to press, and with a comfortable, 
fatalistic sense that what was done was done Buhner 
surveyed his office and his life, almost synonyms. 
He liked his little office, the first floor of a decrepit 
house in Featherstone Buildings. In addition to 
shelves from which flowed broken books and dirty 
newspapers, the small room held three articles of 
furniture — the editorial table of stained deal, the edi- 
torial chair, and a caller's chair. Buimer had bought 
the office furniture second-hand, for three pounds 
ten. For one moment he had thought of dignity 
and of mahogany bookcases to house the encyclo- 
pedia. Then he realized that his capital would not 
allow him to live up to this; so, instead, he prac- 
tised extreme austerity, which was also effective. 
Intending to miss no advantage, he erected a large 
blackboard opposite his desk, and on it caused to 
be painted: 

WE DON'T GO IN FOR SHOW 

WE GO IN FOR 

ZIP 

121 



*g CALIBAN *8 

That would make callers sit up. Indeed, as he 
went on, he developed a growing taste for boards; 
they became means of self-expression. One of them 
read: 

ZIP WANTS NEWS, NOT CHESTNUTS 

And another: 

SAY IT IN FIVE MINUTES. YOU AREN'T 
SHAKESPEARE 

Yes, it was a bright, business-like little room. 
Bulmer did not mind its being ill lit, owing to the 
enormous sign bearing the word "Zip"; this partly 
filled the window. He had another sign at the cor- 
ner of the buildings, urging the public to buy Zip 
for a penny a week; this privilege he had obtained, 
in exchange for a quarter-page advertisement, from 
the cheap jeweler who owned the corner house. 

Yes, there was some kick in him yet, though after 
eight weeks they were still making a loss. He pon- 
dered over the week's loss; it humiliated him. It 
was all very well saying that one had to work one's 
way up . . . but, thought Bulmer, why should he 
have to work his way up like other people? He 
weakened a little as he thought of an^ vaguely 
craved for support. He was like a god without 
worshipers, august, but a little lonely. Of course 
nothing could be expected from his mother and 
sisters. No, that wasn't fair; Hettie was all right. 
Bulmer' s marriage had completed the estrangement 

begun by his shameful desertion of his safe job. 

122 



*g SCISSORS AND PASTE *% 

Eleanor had made a violent attempt to prevent the 
marriage; she had raved about misalliance and asked 
him whether he wasn't ashamed of himself to marry 
a vulgar working-woman. Brutally told that she 
was paid a shilling an hour to teach kids how to 
imitate on the piano the cries of a cat that has colic, 
she attempted to move him by representing how 
hard this match would be on his family; how they 
couldn't receive Vi; how people would wonder why 
they didn't; how it would get about. And hadn't 
he any natural feelings? Thereupon Bulmer grew 
emotional and, thus inflamed, mentioned the word 
"love." This word infuriated Eleanor, who had 
reached the age when love is looked upon as one of 
the minor indecencies of life. 

"How can you talk such nonsense? Love! The 
nonsense that's talked about love makes me ill. 
Love's all very well, but there's duty first. Besides, 
it doesn't last." 

"Ellie, you talk of love as if it was an umbrella." 

"Don't be silly. Oh, I know what you're going 
to say. I've heard all about love pangs and looking 
at the moon, and all that, and all that talk about 
broken hearts. But what of it if people do get 
broken hearts? That's life. It isn't even as if the 
girl could be educated and taught to behave." 

"You wouldn't object if she had five thousand a 
year," said Bulmer, suddenly. 

"I think you're very vulgar," said Eleanor. 

Bulmer saw that and regretted his reply. But 
the conversation went on and achieved no result. 
He knew that Eleanor was telling the truth; love 
had never come to her, and if it had she would have 

123 



« CALIBAN H 

forgone it if she thought it right to do so. She was 
as hard as crystal, and as pure. One couldn't like 
her, but one must respect her. She thought always 
cleanly, and always she thought wrong. She loved 
freedom, and yet rose up against individuality; she 
believed in discretion, and pried into everybody's 
business; she believed in doing good to her fellows, 
and for that good would grind them under any 
tyranny. 

So Eleanor never visited Featherstone Buildings, 
and between her and Mrs. Buhner there arose a 
convention that Dick should not be mentioned. He 
was the shame of the family. But though they said 
nothing about him, they suffered from their own 
silence, for they wanted to discuss him all the time. 
As for Hettie, now thirty-three and beginning to 
realize that Verdens and Cockings would not come 
again, she adopted her brother and his wife, as if 
some obscure and repressed maternal strain through 
them found an outlet. Without telling her mother, 
she helped to hang the curtains, lay the carpets, 
and stain the floors. Sometimes, in the afternoon, 
she would tell Mrs. Bulmer that she was going for a 
walk to Queen's Park, but once round the corner 
she would catch the bus and engage in long conver- 
sation with Vi. She liked to bring presents, small, 
absurd things, Goss china, or, in a silver frame, a 
picture of Ellen Terry or Sir Henry Irving. Some- 
times, unobtrusively, she would leave on the window- 
sill half a pound of caramels, or Bulmer would find 
among his papers a box of Three Castles. Nettie 
was happy with them; she was past the simpering 
stage, and now seemed quiet and effaced. With 

124 



<% SCISSORS AND PASTE £ 

the young couple she grew more human. And one 
afternoon, to the accompaniment of a decayed guitar, 
she sang " Queen of the May." 

Vi was glad of Hettie's society. Miss Buhner 
being a real lady, Vi felt extraordinarily promoted 
by her marriage with a man who'd been to school 
up to seventeen. Also, she needed friends of her 
own sex. The girls from the shop, some of whom 
she still knew, seemed unsuitable. Their conversa- 
tion was not seemly, and though she would gladly 
have, as in the past, exchanged endless whispers re- 
garding "what 'e said to me and what I said to 'im," 
broken by shocked "not reelies," she was conscious 
of her new dignity and of the fact that she had all 
her h's. The other reason was that, Buhner having 
no staff, he employed Vi on scissors and paste. 

Scissors and paste! Vi began with enthusiasm, 
searching the day's papers and cutting out endless 
facts, the cost of new churches, reminiscences of the 
Jubilees, strange facts as to long-lived cats, but in a 
few weeks this became dull and unrewarding. She 
began it to please Dick, for she discovered in matri- 
mony a certain happiness, a satisfaction half of the 
senses, because she had been virtuous, and half of 
the mind, because she still was vain. But to search 
newspapers, to rush down to the Guildhall Library 
to find out something, to sit in dingy old police 
courts waiting for human interest while they brought 
up dull thieves, bred in her a growing irritation. Vi, 
living in two rooms on the second floor, had not 
enough to do, and so she resented having to do any- 
thing. What she wanted in marriage she obtained 
only in part. She honestly wanted her young hus- 

125 



CALIBAN °% 



band; his energetic touch, the unexpected passionate 
caresses which he thrust upon her, were always 
stimulating to the slow brooding of her tempera- 
ment. But she had imagined another life; a beau- 
tiful life made of gazing into the windows of Bourne 
and Hollings worth, of lying in bed reading "a nice 
novel/ ' and of eating ices when you liked. So scis- 
sors and paste, clicky and sticky, maddened her. 
As if seeking revenge she came down to work in the 
morning, at first with untidy hair, later with an ill- 
washed face. 

Buhner hardly noticed. He was not unhappy. 
He had wanted Vi, partly in a physical gush of emo- 
tion, partly because her flattery responded to his need 
for praise, partly because one had to have a woman 
about. And so, when he thought of her, he caressed 
her, petted her, bullied her, insulted her, and much 
more often forgot all about her. They seldom quar- 
reled; sometimes, when Zip had gone to press and they 
went across to the Holborn Music Hall, Bulmer, in 
a blue suit that fitted well his slim figure, and Vi in 
a bodice with a high neck, a constricted waist, and 
enormous gigot sleeves, they laughed and were happy 
like children. Also, most of the turns gave Bulmer 
ideas for Zip, and, before the show was done, his 
program was crowded with notes. For note-taking 
was becoming in Bulmer a passion. He joyfully 
realized that everything was iDteresting. As he 
put it once, "Life is copy." Even his wedding was 
copy; they were married in church, though Bulmer 
had for some years emancipated himself from the 
thrall of church-going. Mr. Wartle, being a ration- 
alist, suggested a registry office, but Bulmer was not 

126 



<$ SCISSORS AND PASTE TB 

interested; he felt that religion was not copy. As 
they were married in Vi's parish, he came in touch 
with a new curate, and was impressed by his beauti- 
ful intonation. This resulted in an interview in the 
vestry and later in an article (unpaid) by the curate 
on " How the Clergy Are Taught Elocution." Later 
it produced an interesting correspondence started by 
Mr. Wartle, on "How the Clergy Are Not Taught 
Elocution." Also, the curate contributed various 
other articles on strange weddings he had known, 
and the comic side of sermons. As he was a popu- 
lar cleric a good many copies of Zip were sold in his 
parish. 

Yet the paper was not going very well, for every 
week yielded a loss of anything between twelve and 
twenty-five pounds. It was not that the paper could 
not pay its way; it could, for it gave its chance con- 
tributors very little, and its circulation was slowly 
increasing; but the more the circulation went up 
the more Buhner spent on advertisements, small 
spaces in the daily papers, placards carefully dis- 
tributed on the hoardings. So the circulation went 
up, and the expenses went up, and the revenue 
stayed where it was, until at last Mr. Cole rebelled. 
This produced a decisive interview in Featherstone 
Buildings. 

"Look here," said Bulmer, "am I the editor or 
you?" 

"I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about 
the loss we're making, and about my bill for printing 
and paper. We're spending too much." 

Bulmer looked at him sideways for a moment, 
and they measured each other, both looking side- 

127 



*» CALIBAN « 

ways; then Buhner's mind conceived a terrific bluff, 
and said: 

"By the way, I've had the paper costed by a 
printer. You're damn dear, Mr. Cole." 

"What do you mean?" spluttered Mr. Cole. 

"Oh, nothing. Only I find there's a printer who'll 
take on the paper for one pound eight a thousand 
less than you do." 

"Never heard such insolence," shouted Mr. Cole, 
losing his wisdom. "You talk as if you could do as 
you like. Don't forget that you owe me about two 
fifty pounds. Besides," he grew hot because he 
knew that Bulmer was right and that his price was 
excessive. "I don't believe a word of it." 

"Ha, ha," said Buhner, sardonically. 

"Not a word of it. I'm printing your paper at a 
loss. If you want to prove it, give me the name of 
your printer." 

"Ah!" said Bulmer, leaning forward with twink- 
ling eyes. "Wouldn't you like to know! Wouldn't 
you like to have the paper printed by him on sub- 
contract and charge Zip your ordinary price, scoop- 
ing the difference!" 

Mr. Cole paused for a moment, very red, and said : 

"I don't want to bandy words with you. If \^ou 
don't pay up in a week or two I'll bankrupt you." 

"Bankrupt me," said Bulmer. "Dear Mr. Cole, 

do bankrupt me. You won't get your money back 

out of the good will of Zip. It isn't worth twopence. 

Oh, do bankrupt me; this furniture '11 fetch two 

pounds ten; that won't help you much. Come on, 

Mr. Cole, there's nothing to be done. I've laid this 

e ggj y°u must let me sit on it." 

128 



*8 SCISSORS AND PASTE *$ 

Finally Mr. Cole departed, routed, and realizing 
that the only way to get his money back was to put 
more in. Bulmer found the incident delightful, and 
thus discovered a new weapon against Mr. Wartle 
as well as Mr. Cole. So long as they could get their 
money back there was a chance that they would sell 
him up, but if only he spent enough to keep the 
property hovering round bankruptcy, yet with a 
rising circulation, they would follow success as 
Ulysses followed Ithaca. He soon had to use this 
weapon again in a ferocious interview with Mr. 
Wartle, whose valuable outside cover advertisement 
he sold to a condensed- milk merchant; he relegated 
the funeral furnishings to an ignoble position. Mr. 
Wartle came down angry, and was so completely 
crushed by threats of immediate bankruptcy thab 
Bulmer counter-attacked, and pointed out that he 
could not be editor, publisher, and advertising man- 
ager any more, and that unless his salary was im- 
mediately raised to three pounds, and unless Alf 
Hawes could be brought in as assistant editor, he 
would break up. 

"Break up," said Bulmer, tragically. "It won't 
break me, Mr. W r artle; I've got no financial bones 
to break. But it '11 break you and Mr. Cole. Now 
then, yes or no; it '11 only cost you a hundred a 
year or so." 

Mr. Wartle, terrified, agreed, and then again for 
several weeks Zip struggled. Every time Mr. Wrar- 
tle saw a placard recommending this blood-sucking 
paper he shuddered. And Mrs. Wartle, who, of 
course, had been against the investment, every night 
in bed reminded him that she'd told him so. 

129 



*g CALIBAN *8 

Then one day success happened. Bulmer and 
Hawes were going over the Daily News, where they 
found an account of a peculiarly atrocious series of 
murders by a man called Machen. Machen had 
been arrested the night before, and was charged with 
having murdered his wife and three children by slow 
poisoning. He had escaped for a long time because, 
being a chemist in Muswell Hill, and fairly expert, 
he had used an organic compound refractory to re- 
agents, and had been subtle enough to vary its use 
in such a way as to kill his wife and first child, giv- 
ing their deaths the appearance of blood-poisoning, 
while the second child ostensibly died of heart 
failure. If he had not bungled by overdosing the 
youngest child, as a result of which a certain quan- 
tity of unassimilated drug was found in the body, 
he would never have been detected. 

"He's a cute un," said Hawes. "My! he could 
do us some popular chemistry for Zip if we could 
get hold of him." 

"Get hold of him!" cried Bulmer, and fell into 
the meditative state which overcame him at times 
of inspiration. "Get hold of him! I wonder if we 
could." 

"No go," said Hawes. "No good going round to 
Scotland Yard and tipping the sergeant. Besides, 
he's at Wormwood Scrubs." 

"Alf," said Bulmer, "you're wrong. One can get 
hold of him. One can get hold of the Grand Lama 
of Tibet if one likes. It's only a matter of finding 
out how." 

"Well, what's your little game?" asked Hawes. 

Bulmer did not reply, but, sitting down, handled 

130 



«QJ 



*8 SCISSORS AND PASTE ]g 

the difficulty in his customary way, by putting down 
at random every idea that came into his head and 
then eliminating the worthless. An hour later he 
got up and put on his hat. 

" Where are you off to?" asked Hawes, looking up 
from an outspread collection of Whitakers. 

"Oh, I'm off to see Machen." 

"What?" shouted Hawes, jumping up; but Bul- 
mer was gone, and it was not until the article ap- 
peared in Zip that Buhner told him the story. It 
was quite simple. Obviously, at this early stage, 
Machen could not yet have briefed a barrister. Bul- 
mer went round the corner into Red Lion Street, en- 
gaged a solicitor on behalf of Machen, paid him thirty 
pounds down as an advance on costs. On the way 
to Wormwood Scrubs the solicitor picked up a young 
barrister who had just been called, and who accepted 
the brief for the sake of the advertisement. The 
three presented themselves at Wormwood Scrubs, 
produced their cards. After some hesitation they 
were allowed access to the criminal, because Machen, 
when asked whether these people were in charge of 
his defense, reflected that, as nobody was and he had 
no money, well, they might as well be. 

So the next issue of Zip detonated like a shell. 

"Old cock," said Buhner, "we've got to put our 
shirt on this." And Zip did put its shirt on it. On 
the eve of the issue eighty pounds' worth of space 
was taken in the newspapers; Mr. Cole was bullied 
into printing thirty thousand posters and paying the 
bill-posting company. And the center of London 
was invaded by strings of sandwichmen carrying this 
board: 

131 



** CALIBAN *% 

MY LIFE 

By Will Machen 

See To-day's Zip 

Mr. Cole, fortunately, understood what this meant, 
and he also put his shirt on it. They were right: 
the circulation leaped up from eighteen thousand to 
a hundred and seven thousand. Almost at once 
commercial firms began to offer advertisements, 
while Bulmer no longer waited outside the adver- 
tising office, but went straight in and booked half- 
pages. The issue following the Machen case carried 
seventy pounds' worth of advertisements, and the 
next one rather over a hundred pounds. For Machen 
was not a wasting asset, and Zip came to deserve 
the insulting reference made in a rival publication, 
who called it "The Machen News." For, following 
on Machen' s story came a series of articles on drugs 
and poisons, their history and effects; there were 
columns of opinions on poisons by doctors, chem- 
ists, divines, retired colonels, and professors of dan- 
cing. There was even an opinion from the manager 
of a tobacco company, which was inserted only after 
he promised to give an advertisement. Then Zip 
went on to poison fiends and the underworld of 
London. 

"Well, Alf," said Bulmer, "we've done it. Now 
we've only got to go on." 

And they did go on; fortunately crime was abun- 
dant that year. Now Zip stood every week as the 
friend of the misunderstood burglar or of the forger 
who had seen better days. Their greatest scoop 
was a parson charged with racing frauds. 

132 



^Q3 



Sf SCISSORS AND PASTE *$ 

" Almost too good to be true," said Bulmer. 
1 i Religion and horses ! " 

Then Vi told her husband that she was about to 
have a child. He was genuinely glad, and kissed her 
affectionately. Then he said: 

"That reminds me; we ought to have something 
called 'Our Babies' Corner'! I say, you'll have to 
learn a bit about babies now. While you're looking 
it up you might write us a few pars for the paper. 
Alf '11 lick 'em into shape." 



Chapter VIII 
Hampstead 

IF Buhner had been analytical he would have seen 
that Vi had not enough to do. But he did not 
analyze; he registered, and while he would have 
noted a fact in a woman's life, he could not note a 
void. Occasionally he noticed that Vi's brooding, 
which in the beginning took the shape of an agree- 
ably sensual sullenness, had turned into sulky silence, 
broken by occasional fits of bad temper. When the 
child was born, and a few hours later died, he was 
unhappy. Not that he loved in advance this un- 
known baby, or felt pride in fatherhood, nor even 
that he mourned because Vi wept: the death of his 
baby appeared to him a sort of failure; a creature 
born of him should have had more vitality. And 
there had been such a lot of fuss for nothiDg; all the 
special feeding for his wife, and the expense of the 
nurse and doctor. He felt that, after all, the 
least Nature could do was to let him have the baby. 
Vi was very unhappy because, feeling idle, she 
had looked forward to the baby. It was going to 
be a doll. Sometimes in her dreams it was a boy; 
it grew up, and played cricket, and fought other 
boys, and won, and went to the university and wore 
a tail-coat and a top-hat; then it took her out to 

134 



*8 HAMPSTEAD % 

tea at Mrs. Robertson's, in Bond Street, where the 
swells went. Or it was a girl, and it wore stiff- 
starched white frocks, sticking out like the skirts of 
a ballet dancer; and of course it had fair hair and 
wore a blue sash (being dark, she admired fair peo- 
ple). And her daughter grew up, and didn't go to 
any of those rowdy boarding-schools she'd heard of; 
she stayed at home and learned French from a 
governess, and married a baronet. So, when the 
baby died, she cried at intervals for two days, and 
her husband tried to comfort her by telling her she'd 
have another baby. He did not understand that it 
would not be the same baby, and that she would 
want a new set of dreams. And when once more Vi 
went about still she found no substitute for real 
occupation. There was hardly anything to do in the 
two rooms at Featherstone Buildings. What there 
was to do — namely, a little dusting — she only half 
did, for she hated housework, and her husband had 
other things to think of; when his desk was dusty 
he blew. Moreover, the coming of Hawes, and the 
development of Zip into a weekly, with two clerks, 
had stolen from her the once hateful thrall of scissors 
and paste. She had absolutely nothing to do except 
look into shops where she could not buy. So it 
occurred to her that if only she had more money, 
she could shop. And Vi passionately wanted to 
shop, to buy stays, remnants, shop-soiled boots, 
bangles, packets of hair-pins — anything, just to buy 
something. It was this new mood caused her sud- 
denly to attack her husband and point out to him 
that he wasn't getting enough money. Bulmer lis- 
tened with interest, for the idea had not struck him. 
10 135 



]g CALIBAN *g 

When the Zip boom came the boom had been its 
own reward. He had spent his time in a fury of 
creation, had joyfully expended his energy, giving 
himself to the thing he was making in an exal- 
tation almost spiritual. He was abashed before the 
shrine of Zip; he was ready to decorate it with rare 
flowers, rich scents, and candlesticks of gold. His 
soul exhaled itself. Zip was august and beautiful, 
for every \Feek its circulation was going up. 

So, at first he took Vi's remarks as in rather bad 
taste. He looked at her dark face as if he disliked 
her, as if she had said something unseemly. 

" We'll see about that when the paper's doing 
really well," he grumbled. 

Vi argued for a long time, pointing out that he 
was wearing himself to a shred for Wartle and Cole. 
Why shouldn't they be comfortable? Why should 
those two get all the profits? He remained uninter- 
ested, but at last Vi fluked on an argument. She said : 

"It's all very well, but if you don't make more 
we'll never have any money behind us." 

"Oh, we'll get along somehow." 

"What about when we're old? What about it if 
you want to start a paper of your own? " 

Buhner lurched forward in his chair, staring at 

her, and for a moment saw her no more. Those 

chance words had liberated within him the spirit of 

the unborn which insists upon living. He had a 

sudden vision of his own paper, without irritating 

partners. And another paper. And another. In 

swimming dizziness he visioned a world where every 

town would take in one of his papers, something of 

himself. And with immense benevolence he aspired 

136 



^ HAMPSTEAD *£ 

to this power. He would give them radiant papers, 
full of humor, to make them laugh when they were 
unhappy, to teach them if they were ignorant, to 
array them for the things he thought vigorous and 
right. It was ecstatic ; the world was his; he might 
give himself to the world. 

He shook free from the dream and, saying, "Til 
see about it," left the room. That same evening, 
having sent a peremptory message to Mr. Wartle 
to meet him at Mr. Cole's office, he presented an 
ultimatum in a single sentence: 

" You give me a half -share in Zip, a full half -share 
in the capital, mind you, or I give you my week's 
notice now." 

There was very little argument. The older men 
had, for some months, lost their suspicions of Bul- 
mer's methods. They no longer doubted the young 
man. They still grudged the money he ruthlessly 
spent in advertisements; at bottom they would 
rather have Zip jog along, making a thousand a 
year, than prancing and raging, making a thousand 
a year all the same, but making it in such an explo- 
sive way. They would rather have made a little 
less than take money from an organization whose 
floor they could feel quiver. They put up a vague 
resistance. Mr. Cole said: 

"Preposterous!" 

Mr. Wartle said they could get somebody else. 
Buhner replied: 

"I will give you the evening to think it over. 

That '11 give you time to find another man. Take 

it on yourself, Wartle. Give 'em great thinkers at 

a penny a week. And, mind you, I want a reply 

137 



°% CALIBAN *8 

to-morrow morning, first post, so don't forget they 
clear the pillar at twelve." 

The letter of surrender did not surprise him; nor 
was he very pleased. He was now sure of six hun- 
dred a year. Well, that was all right. Now let him 
get on with the job. In the course of this getting 
on, he moved. Not that he had any ambition to 
attain the genteel life, but Featherstone Buildings 
was becoming too small. He had acquired the attic 
as a storeroom, and persuaded the dealer in artificial 
limbs, who occupied the ground floor and basement, 
to vacate his premises; this cost him several free 
advertisements. Now he wanted the living-rooms, 
too. He decided they must live somewhere, and 
so, quite suddenly, Vi attained one of her dreams, 
as if by the side wind of a magician's wand: she was 
given a new villa in Laburnum Gardens, on the 
southern edge of Hampstead; so new that all the 
doors stuck and the box in the front garden was 
only a foot high. A hurried afternoon, and the hire 
purchase system produced a dining-room suite of 
fumed oak, to which the salesman added sporting 
prints and a little Venetian glass for the over-mantel. 
They had imitation Sheraton for the drawing-room, 
and a wonderful bathroom, hot and cold. She was 
very happy; she had a bedroom with cerise curtains, 
and a lovely settee. Vi said that when you sank 
down on it you felt you were going to heaven. She 
thought it most unrefined when Bulmer told her 
that heaven wasn't in that direction. Then she 
had a servant; it was lovely. She used to lean over 
the stairs sometimes to watch her maid polish the 
linoleum in the hall. Vi was not keeping watch over 

138 



•g HAMPSTEAD °% 

her servant, but she enjoyed seeing her work. And 
sometimes she held up her finger-nails, which now 
she polished. They were getting long and rosy, the 
finger-nails of her new class. 

Bulmer was less fortunate, for his household gave 
him no special pleasure. It was the right kind of 
dormitory for a man of his position. Indeed, it was 
a vague nuisance, because it was a long way from 
the office; it meant only living, while Featherstone 
Buildings meant life. He was only beginning to be 
touched by the joy of buying, which he was later to 
know. Beyond some prints after Cecil Aldin, some 
hideous reproductions of Rowlandson, and repro- 
ductions of Doctor Syntax's Tour, he bought few 
pictures. Emotionally he was seduced by a carved 
Indian brass bowl or an elephant's tusk turned into 
a paper-knife. But in the main he tried to save 
money; for Vi's remarks had germinated in his 
mind; now he wanted money avariciously, as a 
vague symbol of power. 

Bradley had something to do with this fructifica- 
tion. He met the man one night on the Embank- 
ment, along which he was pacing for no particular 
reason except that it was an unfamiliar place. He 
fell over Bradley's feet in the dark. In reply to 
his apology the man said to him, in an unexpectedly 
cultivated voice: 

"Don't apologize, my dear chap. As dear old 
Milton says, more or less, 'With head, hands, wings, 
or feet, pursue your way!' " 

Bulmer looked at him with interest. He didn't 
read Milton himself, but still, everybody'd heard of 
Milton. This was damned interesting. So he said : 

139 



°S CALIBAN 






"Milton, eh? You sound like an educated man." 

"I am," said the man, lazily. "It's almost a 
commonplace to tell you that I went to Cambridge. 
Nearly all the sandwich-men in London have been 
to Cambridge — it's a Cambridge tradition — and all 
the tramps on the Embankment, too." 

Bulmer looked at him, rather excited. This was 
a real case, and no kid about it, either. One only 
had to see this long shape, with the good, dissipated 
features, and the insolent mouth in the half -grizzled 
beard. 

"How did you come to this?" asked Bulmer, 
sitting down by his side. 

The man smiled. "I shall have to make a charge 
for this," he said. 

"All right," said Bulmer, taking out half a sover- 
eign, "tell me your story." 

"Oh, it's pretty short. I drank. I still do when 
I can afford it. I gambled. And I still do when I 
can find some one who doesn't understand the game. 
I went in for women. And I still do when I meet 
a poor thing to whom I can tell the tale." 

Bulmer felt that this was not satisfactory copy, 
and by degrees extracted the story. Bradley, when 
an orphan at Cambridge, had spent his capital before 
he came down. He had been helped several times 
by his family, then cast off. 

"They sent me to the colonies," he said, "but I 
came back. Better an hour in the shade of the Cecil 
than a cycle of Cathay." 

"What did you do?" 

"Oh, anything or anybody. Sold matches, news- 
papers, boot-laces; ran after cabs and their luggage 



140 



*% HAMPSTEAD "8 

when I felt fit; opened carriage doors outside the 
theaters; or stood outside pubs and sang songs.' ' 

"Look here/' said Bulmer, "do you want to make 
five pounds? " 

The man smiled. "So long as you don't offer me 
a respectable living, I'm on." 

"Well, write me three articles on the story of your 
life, and go gently about the women. Talk a lot 
about your excesses; that '11 tickle up my readers' 
imagination. But don't say what you did, because 
then they'd feel they ought to be shocked. And, 
by the way, just stick in something about the poor 
girl whom you lured away from home, in your first 
article, and work her in as a lost ideal in the next 
two articles. Then end up the last one with some- 
thing about the pure dreams of youth and a better 
world, or I'll lick it up for you if you can't do it." 

Bradley proved an excellent speculation, except 
that his career had to be clipped in parts. Indeed, 
he proved so moving that the first article brought 
eight pounds from charitable persons, and the second 
one an envelope about which Bradley affected vanity 
and coyness. 

"She wants to reform me," he whispered. "Says 
she's forty-one, ahem . . . thirty-one, and her hus- 
band, who was a brewer, died some years ago. Well, 
well, if she still runs the brewery we might be 
friends." 

Bulmer forgot all about him when the articles 
were done. His public had had enough underworld, 
and he was now running a series on "Smart Society 
Seen from the Pantry." Besides, he was excited by 
current events, for he was one of the first members 

141 



V CALIBAN **? 

of the Automobile Club, and joined, through a 
friend, in the motor-car procession from London to 
Brighton. And he suddenly realized his ambition 
to own his own paper by forming The Talebearer, a 
monthly all-story magazine, for which Hawes and 
his assistant, Annan, were struggling to obtain love- 
stories which would be vicious in environment and 
pure in spirit. The Talebearer was his own, but it 
disappointed him, though at once it went fairly well. 
At bottom, Bulmer disliked fiction; he thought 
life too interesting and varied to make it worth 
while to bother about stories. He preferred his new 
weekly, Snappy Bits, which was Zip in another form, 
in that it was less informative and dealt mainly in 
jokes, personalia, and gossip on the edge of libel. 
Snappy Bits, in that feverish year, had much to do 
with the advancement of the cycle boom, and one 
of the supplements — a paper pattern of bloomers — 
brought in an unexpected feminine public, as if the 
revolutionary 'nineties had been waiting for some 
insurgent lead. 

But, at the time, Bulmer felt understaffed and 
overworked. In spite of the insatiable greed of the 
public for statements of facts compressed into para- 
graphs and made obvious to the board-school stand- 
ard, he saw that there must be a limit to novelty, 
and he did not yet understand that the public 
believes nothing, understands nothing, probably 
likes nothing; that it swallows its publications as 
it does chlorodyne for the stomach-ache, in its wish 
to relieve that terrible pain, a mind inactive as a 
starfish. 

In those days he violently sought novelty, and this 

142 



*g HAMPSTEAD 11 

produced an irritable habit. He left the editing to 
Hawes and Annan. He himself was out all day 
trying to buy cheap paper, to capture advertisement 
contracts, or standing in the middle of the traffic in 
Piccadilly Circus, hunting the idea that must be 
found every week and cast as a straw to be whirled 
away into the intellectual drains of the people. It 
was this habit procured the dismissal of Hawes. 
One week Bulmer let Zip go to press without seeing 
the final proofs. When the wet issue reached him 
rage invaded him, his blood rushed into his ears till 
they sang. He ran into the back room and roared: 

"How dare you produce such a paper? What the 
devil do you think you're playing at? Didn't I tell 
you to get a feature article on the Lumiere show of 
that new thing, the Kinema? What the devil do 
you mean by dropping it out?" 

"I couldn't find anybody to . . ." 

"What the hell's that got to do with it? Why 
didn't you write it yourself? Now you've dropped 
it out, and I'll bet anything somebody '11 get in 
before us. Suppose you thought you'd do it next 
week. Well, I'll tell you this, Zip isn't going to be 
a rehash of other people's leavings." 

Hawes grew conscious of Annan, and felt that he 
must assert himself. "Look here," he said, "I 
won't be spoken to like this." 

"No, you won't," shouted Bulmer, "not after 
next week. You can take your notice as from 
to-day." 

He left the room, and, a little later, when he was 
cool, a certain sorrow fell over him. He had known 
Hawes for nine years in the City and up west. And 

143 



*g CALIBAN °£ 

poor old Alf had helped him not only in the first 
numbers, but even as far back as the days of the 
silly journal of that silly society in Kilburn. He 
felt inclined to apologize, to give Alf another chance, 
but an imperious instinct struggled within him; it 
was no use blinking at it; Hawes had gone stale. 
He'd noticed it before. Two weeks running, in 
Snappy Bits, they'd had a joke introducing traffic 
blocks in Piccadilly. And he's harped on bloomers. 
He was repeating himself. Then, again, he thought 
of his old friend, and, in a sort of despair, held out 
an arm to the Griffin at Temple Bar. He said aloud : 

"But what am I to do? What am I to dot " 

Hawes went, sulkily refusing the apology, and, im- 
petuously, Bulmer substituted Bradley. The tramp 
had now turned into an impressive personage, for 
he wore a cheap blue suit, that fitted admirably his 
long, negligent body. And, clean-shaven, he seemed 
less than his forty-two years. He looked rakish, 
man-about-towny, and he developed a sparkling 
cynicism. 

"That fellow," said Bulmer to himself, "is Snappy 
Bits come to life." 

But already Buhner's thoughts were expanding, 
growing uncontrollable, and, toward the end of the 
year, when Jameson and his raiders were defeated 
by Kruger, he observed the general ineffectiveness 
of the Daily News and the Daily Chronicle. He 
hated their leaders, filled with solemn reprobation. 
"Slabs of wet print," he snarled. "Who the hell 
wants to read about the iniquity of commercial 
buccaneers and the rights of small states? Small 
states be damned ! What the public wants is a half- 

144 



<X1> 



*S? HAMPSTEAD ^ 

col. on how Kruger stole Joe Chamberlain's top-hat 
... or something spicy about Salisbury's glass of 
port, and what he said after he'd got it down. By 
God! I'll show 'em, one of these days! There's too 
many Tories about, especially now that blasted 
Daily MaiVs come along. That's the paper. They 
know how to dish it up. And all we've got is the 
Daily News, singing songs of Exeter Hall, and the 
Daily Chronicle writing about the Cabinet crisis in 
Ruritania, and the Morning Leader, all mourning 
and no leading. I'll give 'em Liberalism before I've 
done. Liberalism and Empire. Liberalism and beer; 
I'll show 'em that it wasn't to the tune of the har- 
monium that Englislimen spanked the Pope and 
poleaxed a king." 



Chapter IX 
Lining Up 

THE short, nervous figure stepped jauntily along 
the Pinner Road. The June sunshine hung softly 
about him, and the dazzle of the white road that 
rose and fell in the heat encouraged his meditations. 
He went quickly, revengefully, careless of the sweat 
which, from time to time, he wiped from his brow. 
His thoughts wandered, for everything disturbed 
him: the flowers in the hedges, the names of which 
he did not know and which suggested to him a series 
of articles called " Rambles for Londoners"; he 
observed an occasional insect, a beetle, or a butter- 
fly, material created by a kindly Providence, so that 
paragraphs on nature study might interest the chil- 
dren and encourage fathers to buy. The sun was 
hot; he remembered some talk of storing it for 
industrial uses. Fine thing, science; that electrical 
supplement had been no end of a success. And still 
the sun struck down upon the white road, and stray 
poppies imprisoned its rays within the scarlet fra- 
gility of their petals; in a pond, a fat, white lily sat 
complacent, baring her lusciousness to the rays, 
fleshy, icily humid, receiving, aloof and ungrateful, 
the fire into her breast, exquisite of curve, and with- 
out devotion. 

146 



*» LINING UP *8 

Bulmer stopped. He could not think very well as 
he walked. lie had to sit in a close place that 
limited his view, because as soon as he had seen all 
that there was to see he lost interest in it, and his 
mind, released, entered his personal field. So he 
sat down in a field and stared into a blackberry- 
bush. He thought: 

"I'm unhappy." 

Thirty-one! For a moment, forgetting the great 
excitement promised by the morrow, he abandoned 
himself to the intense pessimism which poets have 
disguised under the name of youthful fervor. Just 
then he was like David Copperfield condemned to an 
eternity of blacking. The last four years had been 
active, struggling years. Things happened. Mrs. 
Bulmer died without entirely forgiving him. She 
just had time to see him move to Hampstead, and 
to realize that he was making six or seven hundred 
a year, but she did not have time to credit his in- 
creasing fortune. Therefore she did not have time 
to forgive him. She called once, with some solem- 
nity and much condescension, and tried to forgive 
Vi. She would rather not have forgiven Vi, but, 
having secretly one evening gone to Laburnum Road 
to see what sort of house her son lived in, and 
caught a glimpse of the cerise curtains in the bed- 
room, she was unable to overcome her desire to see 
the inside, too. To do this she must accept, if not 
forgive, Vi. So Mrs. Bulmer accepted Vi, and opened 
the doors of the fumed-oak sideboard to make sure 
that the back was oak and not deal. 

She accepted Vi; she accepted Zip; a little of 
the shame bred by her son's desertion of his safe job 

147 



c g CALIBAN IS 

disappeared with time. But she retained to the end 
a sense of impending catastrophe. "It's all very 
well," she often said to Eleanor, "but you never 
know how these things end." And, though she re- 
mained cold to Richard, she loved him more in her 
fear for him. She was determined to save what he 
might have cost her, and began to tie up small sums in 
screws of paper — here a sovereign and there four and 
elevenpence. These she hid behind the wainscoting 
and in unfrequented places under the linoleum. 
Sometimes she visited her hoards and told herself 
that they might come in useful for Dick. How 
these things ended one never knew. 

When she died Bulmer felt more resentment than 
pain. He missed her because she was a familiar 
fact, and he ached as he reflected that she had 
never wholly loved him; she had done her duty by 
him. And he never found out about the little 
hoards, because, after her death, Eleanor and Hettie 
ceased to spring-clean. Ultimately, the contents of 
the house were sold, and taken away with the secret 
evidences of maternal love, by the Army and Navy 
Stores. 

He felt very lonely as he stared into the black- 
berry-bush and remembered this. She had not 
loved him, not really. Eleanor had . . . well, been a 
sister to him, and Hettie, yes, she was fond of him 
in a soppy way. For a moment he thought of Vi, 
an unaccustomed preoccupation. Perhaps she'd 
loved him in her brooding, physical way, but she 
didn't really understand; he'd been wrong there; 
she didn't care, not really. If only she had enough 
money to ride about in hansoms instead of buses 

148 



« LINING UP *8? 

. . . well, that's all she thinks about. And for a 
moment his mind floated away into an ideal region 
where lived something abstract, sedative, and in- 
toxicating; hardly a thing, rather a spirit. He 
might love and be loved. He thought he had seen 
the spirit, now and then, in the eyes of girls he met 
in the street. He spoke to one of them once and 
tried to tell her, but she replied, " Chase me." The 
bitterness of his youth mingled with this misty 
idealism. The fact of his marriage did not trouble 
him, for he aspired to a union incorporeal. But 
what was the good of talking, he thought. The 
world was what it was. The only thing was to go 
ahead, give the public what it wanted. A little 
emotion filled him as he thought of himself giving 
the public what it wanted; as if he crammed toys 
into the eager hands of a child and rejoiced in its 
smile. 

Beyond a doubt he was giving the public what it 
wanted, and it was paying him well. Zip was now 
an established property, and his half-share was 
worth two thousand a year, while Snappy Bits, his 
own, that one, was worth three thousand a year, 
and rising. There was Splits, too, a comic, which 
was fighting, so far with uncertain success, against 
the dominating Comic Cuts. He reflected that 
Bradley was making a success of Splits, but Bulmer 
had to watch him. Annan having been dismissed 
when emptied of his originality, Bradley's ironic 
mind was a little above the head of the Splits pub- 
lic. Bulmer reflected that it was easy to get over 
the heads of that public; it seemed to keep its head 
where most people kept their feet. 

149 



°% CALIBAN IS 

"I rather wish I'd had old Hawes back," he 
thought, aloud. Indeed, the Hawes vision of 
humor, his public-house wit, his cockney tang, 
his affection for jokes touching on bookmak- 
ers, lodgers, twins, and cheese, would have 
been the making of Splits, But Buhner rejected 
the temptation. No, it was no good. He'd told 
Hawes so. His old friend had come to him some 
months before, in an old, tightly buttoned frock- 
coat, that revealed the clean but frayed linen of a 
best shirt. Poor old Alf ! His boots were all out of 
shape, and he walked as if their creases hurt him. 

" Sorry, Alf," said Buhner; "can't take you back; 
it's no go." 

"I don't expect you to make me editor," said 
Hawes, humbly. "I know I'm not much good. 
Take me on as odd man; I can scratch up a para- 
graph and do jobs for one of your subs." 

Buhner did not reply for some time. He was 
very sorry for Hawes, and sentimentality insisted 
that he should not desert his old friend. To see him 
like this brought tears near his eyes. But he fought 
his own emotion and said: 

"No, Alf, I'm sorry. You've failed before. If it 
was only me I'd take you back, but it's for the sake 
of the papers. It wouldn't be fair on the papers. 
They've got to have the very best, the very freshest. 
If any one's a success I've got to get him in, because 
it's good for the papers. If he fails, it's not fair to 
load them up with him. Nobody that leaves us 
can ever come back, because he's a bit of the past, 
and papers don't have a past. They haven't even 
got a future. People think it's the sun makes the 

150 



*g LINING UP *8 

day; it isn't; it's the morning paper." He paused, 
inflamed by his own enthusiasm, then again noticed 
those incredible boots. He added: "But I can't 
let you go like that, Alf. I'll tell you what I'll do 
for you. I'll write you a check for two hundred and 
fifty. Go out to the colonies. Perhaps you'll make 
good." He laughed. "Go to Canada. Get on. 
Get into their Parliament, and then ... ah! then 
I'll interview you and photograph you. Make 
yourself first and I'll make more of you. No use 
whispering in this world. Shout, man, shout ! And 
if your voice can get to me across the water, by God ! 
my papers will be megaphones to carry it to the 
stars." 

He did not tell Hawes what was in his mind when 
he spoke of his papers. He had as a principle, 
"Never speak unless you see advantage in revealing 
a fact, or unless the mass of your conversation con- 
ceals the fact you wish to hide." This Sunday was 
the day. For five years he had suffered while Alfred 
Harmsworth rose on the Daily Mail, inflated as a 
balloon by the hot breath of popularity. He had 
watched the Daily Mail rise, full of hatred and of 
admiration, seen it do exactly what should be done, 
and seen it led by another man. At first, at night, 
he talked to Vi of his intentions, until he stopped, 
angry and humiliated, as her breathing grew more 
regular and she went to sleep. Then he found 
furious disappointment in his own organs; what was 
the good of those wretched bits of weekly patch- 
work, Zip, Splits, and the rest? What was the 
good of The Talebearer, and its detective stories and 
its tales of pure love? What did it matter if Miss 

n 151 



*$ CALIBAN * 

Acton did come out of a South-African printing firm 
to create Jackie's Own Journal, and later Mollie's 
Own Journal? What did it matter if they all adver- 
tised one another, making a crisscross of publicity, 
entangling men for Snappy Bits through their little 
daughter's paper, and wives for The Talebearer 
through the influence of their husbands' favorite 
Splits? What did it matter if he was saving nearly 
five thousand a year, living like a little, middle- 
class man in Hampstead? What did it matter if 
in twenty years he were worth a hundred thousand 
or more? Money! He laughed aloud. At bottom 
he despised money, except that money was power. 

It is proverbial that the great, when beheld, dis- 
appoint would-be worshipers; Buhner thus sur- 
prised those who already glimpsed in him that 
compound of steadfastness and inspiration, cruelty 
and sympathetic understanding, generosity, egoism, 
aloofness and desire, that we sometimes venture to 
call genius. In rare fits of self-consciousness, Bulmer 
was inclined to bewail his insignificant appearance, 
his pale eyes and hair, and especially the poverty of 
his fair mustache. He felt entitled to the best mus- 
tache, as to the best of all things, and with childish 
superstition tried a number of greasy cures for hair- 
lessness. Bulmer was wrong. He was slight, but 
not unimpressive; certainly too short, too thin, dis- 
tinguished neither by excess of nose nor by a chin 
like a shovel; but he did not value as he should have 
his vivacity, the activity of his glance that ate as 
an acid into the resolution of an adversary, the 
devotion of a disciple. Yet he surprised both ad- 
versary and disciples because they expected some- 

152 



« LINING UP « 

thing massive; they sought in him the rush of the 
elephant, and found the supple quality of the tiger. 

It was this quality had captured Vi, but also this 
quality led Buhner later to elude her. At first she 
reproached her husband for never sitting still, for 
escaping too readily from her thick arms. In that 
sense he made her a poor lover; he had no languor; 
he shook off her thrall too swiftly, too soon tired of 
a pleasure, too soon desired another which she did 
not command. When once he tried to explain this, 
to himself rather than to Vi, he only succeeded in 
annoying her. 

"What you want," she said, "is a harem." 

Vi was wrong. Bulmer wanted no harem: he 
hardly wanted a woman at all. He never put to 
himself that a man had to have a woman about, so 
that his meals might be cooked and his boots blacked, 
but that was the actual role of woman in has life. He 
was faithful to Vi, because no woman tempted him, 
because he had given to his career, to his blind as- 
piration, to success for the sake of success, all his 
energy, all his idealism. He wanted power. Power 
to what end he did not know, but just power, the 
consciousness of it. 

And now he was to have power. It had come 
simply, easily, through a conversation with Bradley, 
into whose careless ears he suddenly expended his 
ambition. The ex-tramp, now well tailored, his hair 
close cut, his beard scented with bay rum, given to 
white spats and to large Coronas, a member of a 
club in St. James's Street, listened to him with 
irony, and said: 

"I don't know what more you want. I don't 

153 



°g CALIBAN *3? 

know what you make; you're too wily to tell me, 
being afraid I'll ask you for a rise, but it can't be 
far off ten thousand a year." 

Buhner did not reply. He did not want to con- 
tradict this; it was good that people should think 
he was making ten thousand a year. Nor did 
Bradley say anything; he knew that Bulmer did 
not make ten thousand a year, but he knew also 
that Bulmer would like him to think he did. There- 
fore Bulmer would not deny it, and therefore, also, 
he would not be able to refuse him a rise a little 
later. Then he had an idea. 

"I say, Bulmer," he remarked, "if you're eating 
your heart out, as they say in that compendium of 
immortal literature which you call The Talebearer, 
why don't you float your damn daily and be done? 
What's the use of going on like this? You're only 
raising a boil on your young ambition. Since you 
won't take my tip and either fill yourself up with 
Heidsieck or break hearts (break hearts while you 
may) — well, float your damn daily." 

"What about capital? It wants . . . well, to do 
it as I want to, half a million." 

"Well, get half a million. What's the use of 
pouring out the slush we do pour out on the people 
of England if you can't get half a million out of 
them?" 

"It isn't slush," said Bulmer, hotly. "Anyway, 
I read all my papers for pleasure. But never mind 
that. How are we going to raise half a million? " 

"Go and ask the damn capitalists. There are 
capitalists everywhere, going about with their 
tongues hanging out, looking for a chance to have 

154 



*8? LINING UP °£ 

a drink of somebody else's water. Why, the world's 
full of capitalists, and bugs, and popular magazines. 
There's some in my own family — capitalists, I mean, 
not bugs." 

"Oh," said Buhner, suddenly grave. "Who's 
that?" 

And that was how it happened. Uncle Bradley 
began by being cynical; the forty-year record of his 
nephew did not breed confidence, but the personality 
of Bulmer, and especially the balance-sheets of his 
six magazines, were extremely reassuring. Uncle 
Bradley hesitated for a long time; at bottom he 
rather wanted to make it a condition that his nephew 
should be given the sack. It would be safer, some- 
how. But, in the end, Bulmer swept him away on 
the current of an intoxicated tirade, where he demon- 
strated that half England was aching for a combina- 
tion of Liberalism and vulgarity. 

"I don't say the Daily Mail isn't all right. I 
don't say the Daily Express isn't all right. They've 
got zip all right, both of them. But they're Tory. 
Oh, I know there are no Tories, there are no Liberals, 
among the public. They are only people who want 
news, and they vote one side or the other because, 
damn it all, when you toss a penny it's got to come 
down either heads or tails. But what really matters 
is not the joint, it's the dishing up. Little Bethel, and 
the old ladies who are making trousers for the nigger 
boys, and the Welsh drapers who exhort their em- 
ployees at the P. S. A. on Sunday and give them 
Canadian cheddar on Monday, and all the people 
who want to do good on the cheap, and all the 
people who keep a religion because they don't like 

155 



*8 CALIBAN *g 

dogs . . . millions of them all doing good and their 
neighbor, do you think they're getting what they 
want out of the Daily Chronicle and Cabinet crises 
in Mesopotamia, and out of the Daily News and its 
touching little bits about the presentation of a 
ginger-ale stand to the Rev. Josiah Bagasoul? 
They're quite as interested as the Daily Mail public 
in details about the Gaiety girl, and how she made 
the Honorable James pay up. They want to vote 
for Campbell-Bannermann, and be told how to get 
a plot of begonias out of four pennyworth of seed." 

"But what about Harmsworth?" said Uncle 
Bradley and the five stolid city men whom he had 
brought in. 

"Where there's room for one there's room for two," 
said Buhner. "Harmsworth has created a taste; 
it's our job to give the people what he's taught the 
people to believe they want. Every advertisement 
of the Daily Mail is an advertisement of the 
Daily Gazette, because they're teaching people to 
want papers. There can't be too many papers, any 
more than there can be too much beer. The news- 
paper's a habit, like beer, and they both grow on 
you." 

So, as Buhner gazed into the blackberry-bush, he 
knew that the answer that would come next morn- 
ing would be "Yes." The Daily Gazette! His mind 
was fermenting with plans, preparing to snatch smart 
newspaper men. His mind whirled with stunts and 
scoops. Money did not trouble him then; it did 
not matter much that he would have a thirty -per- 
cent, share and be paid for all advertisements of 
the newspaper in his own magazines. If he had 

156 



« LINING UP *g 



thought of it he would have abandoned it all, so 
that it might swell the four hundred and twenty- 
thousand pounds of capital guaranteed to the paper. 
He loved this unborn paper as a mother a child 
that is to come. His fancy staggered before a pict- 
ure of the future. He murmured: 

"I'll show the Daily Mail, They're pushing the 
big things like cars; I'll push the little things like 
dogs. I'll push things of which there are most be- 
cause there are more people to like 'em . . . gardens 
. . . season tickets . . . how to give a tea-party like 
the swells, for twopence a head. The Daily MaiVs 
too refined. It's all over theaters; I'll give 'em 
music-halls. And plenty of Empire on the cheap, 
with no taxes to pay for an army and navy. I'll 
give 'em Little England, and make it into a beano 
land. As for Harmsworth . . . Zip, my boy, I'll give 
you zip." 



Part III 

THE VORTEX 



Many a mad magenta minute 
Lights the Uwender of life. . . . 

— Sandys Wason. 



Chapter I 
The Daily Gazette 

THE paper was twelve days old, and already it 
had enemies. Made up almost to resemble the. 
Daily Mail, it flaunted an aggressive Liberalism and! 
a manly bluffness which caused noses to sniff and 
eyebrows to rise among the brethren of Fleet Street. 
From the National Liberal Club came references to 
upstarts; from the Reform Club, as usual, nothing 
at all; from the Press Club, an itch to be in it; from 
friends of secretaries of Opposition leaders, veiled 
references to the weather, leading up to inquiries 
casual as a yawn: many people wanted to know if 
suave Rosebery and Empire, or Radical John 
Burns, or respectable and Free Church McKenna 
was to be expressed in the Daily Gazette. Bulmer 
was flattered by these maneuvers, but he carefully 
repulsed everybody. He intimated that he would 
run his paper as he chose. 

"And," he added, "if required, I will kick Liber- 
alism where I think fit. After all, that will help it 
to rise in the world." 

He was free. Already his proprietors were afraid 
that they would lose their money. Buhner, know- 
ing that they could not sell their shares, did all he 
could to maintain in their minds the feeling that 
they had harnessed their chariot to the tail of a 

\ 161 



<X>3 



V CALIBAN * 

comet which would shortly crash into some solid 
star. As he put it to Vi, in bed: " First principle of 
business, Vi, is for the man of brains to terrify the 
man of money. Brains and money never pull to- 
gether; in the end, when brains gets there, money 
commits suicide. Gets locked up in the safe, you 
know. Stifled." 

For he was beginning to say brief, dramatic 
things. He was not quite thirty-two. He was in- 
credibly successful. But still he was only thirty- 
two, and so he needed to demonstrate that thirty- 
two is half of sixty-four, and twice as smart. The 
dramatic instinct had heralded the first moments of 
the Daily Gazette, for Bulmer had determined not 
to slink in byways; he thought Carmelite Street 
unobtrusive: "All right for Harmsworth," he said. 
"He's been at it for years. We're too new. We've 
got to come out like a bomb Got to have an office 
in Fleet Street itself." 

There was no empty building in Fleet Street. 
Buhner's despondency did not last many minutes. 
He remarked: "I want a house in Fleet Street. 
There are houses in Fleet Street. Therefore I can 
get a house in Fleet Street." For Bulmer thought 
simply, and never of more than one thing at a time. 
Almost immediately he decided what to do; his 
printers were established in Shoe Lane, two doors 
from the corner. The obvious thing was to have 
the corner. This was a very old house divided up 
into three large offices and six small ones. Below 
was a shop. It all went very simply. The little 
offices were delighted to sell their lease for a premium 
of two hundred pounds or so each and the cost of 

162 



*g THE "DAILY GAZETTE" ^ 

removal. Two of the big offices wanted to extend, 
and had been struggling for a long time to persuade 
each other to move. They had thus come to a dead- 
lock, which Buhner solved by offering to move them 
free of cost to a better building, and to pay the first 
year's rent. 

The third large office proved impossible; it was 
the London branch of an ancient provincial news- 
paper which had never moved before and did not 
intend to move unless the roof fell in. Buhner 
held a number of agonized conferences with aged 
gentlemen who clung to their office with a tight- 
lipped despair, recalling that of an old-age pensioner 
whose furniture the landlord threatens to deposit 
into the street. The old gentlemen were frightfully 
disturbed by the noise that was going on above and 
below their office, where Bulmer was causing parti- 
tions to be torn down and other partitions to be put 
up, where windows were being burst into the walls, 
and where, judging from the sound, ceiling after 
ceiling was being precipitated over the old gentle- 
men's heads. But with toothless obstinacy they 
intimated to Bulmer that they would never, never 
forsake that office. And indeed they never did; 
the shop gave a little trouble until Bulmer installed 
a printing-press over their ceiling and drove them 
out by vibration, but the old provincial paper stayed. 
It is still there. It is still living in a state of enraged 
bewilderment because young Americans call and 
insist on handing out the dope, while partly clad 
flappers rush through their inquiry office and ask if 
this is the Daily Gazette matrimonial bureau. The 

words " Daily Gazette," in gilt letters nine feet high, 

163 



*8? CALIBAN H 

obscure their timid lettering. But still they stay, 
" bound upon the wheel, go forth from life to life, 
from despair to despair," while Buhner above, below, 
on the right and on the left, conveys to them some- 
thing of the blatancy of a changing world. 

Bulmer had enjoyed his battle with the old gentle- 
men, though he never understood how they came to 
stay. He ended by putting them down as natural 
phenomena, like typhoid and black beetles, which the 
progress of civilization would obliterate by degrees. 
Besides, he had other things to think of, for he 
created the wind of the Daily Gazette and was borne 
onward upon it. The enlistment of the staff was 
dramatic; he did not pick a single leading man from 
among unemployed journalists; every one of them 
was stolen from another paper. 

"A good man has work," said Bulmer. "No 
doubt there are good men padding their hoof in the 
Street, but how's one to find them? The man we 
want is the man for whose services we've got to out- 
bid his proprietors." That was how he stole Charles 
Swinbrook, his editor, from a big Scottish daily, 
and Gedling, as foreign sub. He hesitated a little 
over Ash, the news editor, for Ash came to his house 
in Hampstead in the early morning, and offered him- 
self to him. But Ash was extraordinarily clever, and 
confessed calmly that he had left five papers before 
he was thirty, scoring every time. 

"Oh," said Bulmer. "I suppose you'll leave me 
as soon as you've got all you can out of the Daily 
Gazette." 

"I will if I get a better chance," said Ash. "Mr. 
Bulmer, I'm out to make money, but I guess I'll get 

164 



]8 THE " DAILY GAZETTE" « 

more out of you than out of anybody. You can 
have my body — that's pretty dear — and you can 
have my soul for nothing." 

Bulmer laughed, and took him on. He liked him 
very well, and he also had faith in his advertising 
manager, an American called Silas J. Hassop, a gray, 
quiet, elderly man, who, on being approached to leave 
the advertising agency which he managed, arrived 
with four weeks' orders in hand for the front page. 

"So you've got off the mark before the paper's 
started," said Bulmer. "You seem pretty sure of 
getting the job." 

"Well," said the American, thoughtfully, "I 
don't see you turning down a man that comes along 
with four weeks' front page in hand." 

Indeed, Bulmer was delighted with them all, ex- 
cept with Ormesby, the literary editor, probably 
because he was grave and had a Napoleonic chin. 
Bulmer knew those chins; they were always feeble. 
But still, as the fellow was only going to look after 
books, he forgot all about it. Miss Kent, the typist, 
and Moss, his private secretary, completed his per- 
sonal staff. He soon grew fond of Moss, for the 
young Jew, just down from Cambridge, at once 
showed incredible tact in saving his chief interviews. 
He was human, too, had twinkling brown eyes, and 
the loose mouth of the comedian. One day, when 
he thought himself alone, Bulmer heard him sing 
gently to himself: 

"Tiddly urn pum pum, 
Tiddly um pum pum, 
He did it orfully grand. 
165 



*8? CALIBAN *8 



Tiddly um pum pum, 
Tiddly um pum pum, 
The man who conducted the band." 

Bulmer raised his chin upon his hand and thought 
of Hawes. Poor old Hawes! He wondered what 
had become of him. A bartender in Canada, he 
supposed, or something. 

"For she was one of the early birds, 
And 1 was one of the worms . . ." 

hummed Moss. Then he noticed his chief, and, in- 
stead of looking bashful, smiled and said: 

" Popular music, sir; that's what the people like. 
What about one of the latest songs as a supplement? " 

"Not a bad idea," said Bulmer, "but won't do 
for the Gazette. We're solemn, you know; pillars of 
Empire, and all that. But you talk of it to Mr. 
Linton. Might do for Zip." 

Bulmer was rather disinteresting himself of his 
periodicals. He had handed them over to Linton, 
who was fat, amiable, middle-aged, and had passed 
twenty -five years in running an immense variety of 
magazines appealing to the fireside, the racecourse, 
the ring, and the choir. Bradley had refused to 
handle the periodicals, pointing out that he'd been 
doing the work for four years, and that he'd never 
done anything for four years on end before, and was 
going mad. So he took charge of the publishing 
and became general manager. Excepting the times 
when he was recovering from an excess of cham- 
pagne he intimately retained Bulmer's confidence. 

166 



•g THE "DAILY GAZETTE" °S 

Bulmer tried to reform him now and then, pointing 
out that sobriety was not a virtue, but certainly a 
convenience. 

"No good," said Bradley. "Once upon a time I 
used to drink like a fish; now I get as drunk as a 
lord; there's a vast difference." 

The success of the Daily Gazette was almost im- 
mediate. Bulmer had, of course, refused to join 
the newspaper ring, and printed six hundred thou- 
sand. In view of the future, he did not dare sell 
them to the news agents cheaper than did his com- 
petitors, but he engaged an incredible number of 
decrepit loafers who were controlled through Brad- 
ley's organization. These he stationed in twos and 
threes outside every railway station, public building, 
or block of offices. They did not individually sell 
very much, but as they received the paper at cost 
they made profits enough to induce them to go on 
. . . and their placards gave the Daily Gazette an 
intense advertisement. Indeed, in those first days, 
Bulmer thought of nothing but advertisements. He 
was one of the first to flash at night upon the clouds 
the name of his paper; he engaged in savage assaults 
on the imperialism of the Daily Mail and the Daily 
Express, "not," as he put it, "that I or my public 
care a damn either way, but if they slang me they 
advertise me." Feeling that sandwich-men were out 
of date, he signalized the King's birthday by a Daily 
Gazette pageant of triumphal cars, which, for a whole 
day, distributed Daily Gazette souvenirs from Finch- 
ley to Reigate, and from Richmond to Gravesend. 
And on the 5th of November an immense quantity 
of bombs were fired from the roof of his building, 

12 167 



°% CALIBAN 1? 

dropping showers of aluminum disks, each one of 
which entitled the finder to receive the paper next 
day free of cost. And the circulation, which had 
started at four hundred and ten thousand, dropped 
down for a little while, then began to rise steadily. 
When once more it reached four hundred thousand 
Buhner began to spray his rivals with insults. One 
morning it was a placard: 

WE HAVE LICKED THE DAILY EXPRESS 
BUY THE DAILY GAZETTE 

or: 

MORNING POST 
COME OUT AND FIGHT. 

And he put upon the public a pressure which appealed 
to the sheep spirit : 

EVERYBODY'S BUYING THE DAILY GAZETTE 
DO YOU WANT TO GET LEFT? 

Or again, insinuating leaflets were distributed in 
the street: 

THE DAILY GAZETTE WAS THE ONLY PAPER THAT 
GAVE THE STRAIGHT TIP YESTERDAY FOR THE LIN- 
COLNSHIRE! IF YOU HAD PAID YOUR HALFPENNY 
YOU WOULD HAVE BACKED A WINNER AT THIRTY- 
THREE TO ONE! DON'T GET LEFT NEXT TIME! BUY 
THE DAILY GAZETTE WHILE YOU CAN! 

STOP PRESS! 
ALL THE WINNERS! 

DAILY GAZETTE 1 

THE OTHER PAPERS - - - ALSO RAN 

168 



*S? THE "DAILY GAZETTE'' Tg 

Bulmer, much to the annoyance of Swinbrook, 
forced him to open a woman's half-page, which he 
almost entirely filled with theatrical gossip and 
society news on the edge of scandal. There were 
also acute discussions on the best w r ays to catch 
men, and facts as to the materials which would turn. 
There was a spirited debate on "Does tussore clean 
better than shantung?' ' 

As for the politics, Bulmer was giving the Liberal 
opposition the support that the photographer's rack 
gives to the head of his patient. The Boer War was 
ending, and as obviously England would win and 
annex, it was no good going in for Little England. 

"It's all very well," he said to Swinbrook, who 
had conscientious scruples and was a most con- 
servative Liberal. "A lot of them are grizzling 
about the poor Boers, but when the Tories have 
done the job for them and got hold of the country, 
there isn't one of them won't be willing to make 
a bit out of the South African mines. Don't you 
make any mistake about it, Swinbrook, the public 
may want to hang the murderer, but it's always 
ready for a share in the swag." 

Besides, the politics of the Daily Gazette were not 
obtrusive. Mainly they consisted in ferocious 
attacks on Joseph Chamberlain, who was titillated 
every day by cartoons and eight-line verse. The 
foreign correspondents were soon taught that what 
the Daily Gazette wanted was nippy news; so they 
soon gave up the habit of sending reports of sittings 
of the Reichstag and the Cortes, but gave full 
accounts of any moral scandal they could find in 
Berlin of smart elopements and trials for bribery. 

169 



« CALIBAN °& 

It was all readable, bright, active, easy to under- 
stand, for it demanded no understanding. When 
one day Swinbrook told Bulmer that he treated his 
public like children, Bulmer replied: 

"You think too highly of mankind, Swinbrook. 
Man isn't a cow. It can't chew the cud. They 
gulp the news down and they get indigestion. I 
give them their news peptonized." 

There were other sides to this activity. Four 
days after the flotation of the Daily Gazette Bulmer 
was so tired that he walked home to clear his head. 
This took him past Piccadilly Circus and through 
Mayfair. He stopped for a moment in Upper Brook 
Street, and it suddenly struck him that a rising man 
ought to live there. The silent breadth, the com- 
posure of the place, impressed him, and for a moment 
he felt small. Correspondingly, he rebounded, and, 
staring at the house opposite, said to himself, "I'll 
have that house." He noted the number. Deciding 
it was really very late, he took a cab back to Fleet 
Street and slept on Swinbrook's sofa. At nine 
o'clock in the morning he went back to Upper 
Brook Street. He saw the occupier, an entirely 
amazed and fortunately rather impoverished dow- 
ager. After half an hour's conversation he drove off 
with the bemused lady to her solicitor's. As they 
came out he said: 

"I suppose you'll want to pack your clothes. 
Wouldn't take you more than three or four hours, 
would it?" 

If he had not forgotten Upper Brook Street he 

would have found Vi easier to manage. As it was, 

Vi heard of this promotion at two in the morning, 

170 



*g THE " DAILY GAZETTE" °$ 

when Bulmer shook her by the shoulder and told her 
to get up and pack. It took him some time to make 
her understand, and when she understood that he had 
bought the lease of a new house and its furniture — 
the entire contents, from grand piano to match-stand 
— she was so overwhelmed that she wept. For she 
had been living a lonely life for several years, and 
the detonations of Buhner's career came to her as 
from afar. The old physical lure that had been so 
strong did not now bind them together. Bulmer 
caressed her between editions, and as she was idle 
she found that time went slowly. She had even 
lost her old delight in showing her friends at Liberty's 
how much money she had. 

"You do it on purpose," she sobbed. "You do 
things behind my back. It's as if I didn't count." 

"Come on," said Bulmer, "get up," and helped 
her out of bed with a certain roughness. Vi was 
thirty-five, but still handsome in a brooding, animal 
way, and for a moment he noticed those sullen good 
looks. But love was to him accessory. One made 
love as one brought out a newspaper, as one shaved, 
life being one damn exciting thing after the other. 
Only now and then did there pass through his mind 
that strange feeling of aimlessness, loneliness. He 
had felt it most often in Vi's arms. It was not that 
she was remote, this heavy, fine woman; nothing 
was remote to Bulmer when it was there. But, 
dimly, he always realized that he had not the thing 
he needed, because, if he had it, he would not know 
it w r as there. He would not be the master of a 
pleasure; he would be in a state beyond desire. 

So Violet wept and packed. As soon as the shops 

171 



*8 CALIBAN TB 

were open telephone calls precipitated into Upper 
Brook Street men with heavy boots, to take away- 
decrepit furniture and bring new, to run pipes 
through ceilings, and fit porcelain baths. Vi lived 
through it in a state of agonized pride, and the con- 
fusion was increased by Bulmer, who, becoming in- 
toxicated with his house, insisted on superintending 
the multitude of workmen, with the result that a 
large policy meeting was held in the drawing-room 
while the ancient cisterns were being dragged down 
the stairs. And in the hall all sorts of people waited 
to waylay Vi — beggars in various states of decent 
distress, representatives of charitable societies anx- 
ious to have Mrs. Bulmer's patronage, keen-looking 
young men, thinking to do better here than at Fleet 
Street, artists with their portfolios. There was even 
a rather decayed colonel who had come to offer social 
introductions, and sat in the hall for four hours, 
carved out of brown wood, waxed and polished, and 
refusing to let the gaze of his monocled eye rest upon 
this crowd that was not in society. 



Chapter II 
Upper Brook Street 

BULMER realized clearly that life is just 
one damn thing after another when he had 
to control together the Daily Gazette and Upper 
Brook Street. Twin passions, and, unfortunately, 
fighting twins. He did not tell himself that he had 
taken on too much, and taken it on too suddenly, 
for that sort of idea did not occur to him. All he 
knew was that he was harassed, received and wrote 
too many letters, saw too many people, and was 
unduly haunted by the telephone. And because he 
felt harassed he concluded that Vi was inefficient. 

In those early, feverish days everything was a 
pleasure, everything was a load, because he had no 
sense of finality. He wanted to be the greatest 
newspaper proprietor in England, to smash Harms- 
worth, to dominate politics, to have everybody at 
his crushes, and yet a secret discontent told him that 
there stood behind all this something else, unattain- 
able unless he could define it. It was not that he 
did not succeed; the circulation of the Daily Gazette 
was rising steadily, and it triumphed by cynicism. 
Having announced the signature of peace with the 
Boers the day before it actually happened, the Daily 
Gazette saved itself with magnificent effrontery, by 

printing next morning an enormous head-line: 

173 



*g CALIBAN *« 

PEACE SIGNED 

The "Daily Gazette" Told You So Yesterday 

Who's First with the News Now? 

All the superior people laughed, but London was 
impressed, and the circulation, which had been 
enhanced by this impudent affair, was almost en- 
tirely maintained. 

If it had not been for Vi, Buhner's social success 
might have been more dramatically swift. As soon 
as Upper Brook Street was ready Buhner instructed 
Vi to get a party, much as he would have told her 
to get a leg of mutton. It was only a week later, 
when he realized that nothing was happening, that 
he questioned Vi, and found that she could think of 
nobody except the people in the office and their 
wives. He became extraordinarily angry. 

"Good God! haven't you got any common sense? 
Do you think we've taken a house in Mayfair to 
hold a wayzgoose? Why don't you ask the com- 
positors? And ask Hettie and Ellie to bring the 
young men from the estate office? Do you think 
we're making thousands a year to sit on a blasted 
island?" 

"But who am I to ask?" said Vi, tearfully. "We 
don't know anybody." 

"Don't know anybody," said Bulmer, contemp- 
tuously. "Of course one's got to begin to know 
people before one knows them. One's not born with 
a visiting-list. Ask the whole damned directory." 

"You're joking," said Vi, offended. 

"Don't be silly ! If you ask everybody in Mayfair 
and Belgravia three-quarters of them won't answer, 

174 



*8 UPPER BROOK STREET ^ 

and the other quarter '11 come. Some of them be- 
cause there'll be something to eat. Some of them 
because they're afraid that if they don't come the 
Daily Gazette will serve them out. Some of them 
because they've got nothing else to do that night 
and can't bear to stick at home." 

In the end, however, Bulmer realized that society, 
like newspapers or cobbling, is best run by experts. 
He had two of them at hand. One was Lady Maud 
Redgrave, the middle-aged daughter of a marquess, 
who had insisted on selling him stale society news 
at high prices. He took Lady Maud out to lunch 
at Claridge's, and quiet arrangements were made, 
following on which the society news was suppressed 
and heavy compensation was given. Lady Maud 
w T as very pleased, and assured Bulmer that not only 
would her father and mother come, but many other 
more or less hungry and titled relatives, and . . . 

"Of course," said Lady Maud, "in these days 
people are so informal. I don't say, Mr. Bul- 
mer, that if this had happened ten years ago, it 
would have been quite so easy. But this is 1902, 
you see. One must march with the times. These 
are the days of democracy." 

Finally, Lady Maud's small visiting-list and her 
enormous nodding acquaintance were included. 

Meanwhile, Colonel Bagshot, the colonel made of 

polished brown wood, removed his incrusted monocle 

after a further sitting in Bulmer's hall. After a 

large number of haw-haws, and "my dear fellas," 

and references to the best people, he practically 

produced a tariff per head, without extra charge for 

evening dress. 

175 



*g CALIBAN 






"You might do something" he added, vaguely. 
"Give 'em a sorter reason to come. Buy a Rem- 
brandt, you know, or go in for cream-colored ponies 
or somethin'!" 

Bulmer had no time to bother about Rembrandts 
or ponies. He relied only on the vanity of man. 
He calmly asked the whole Cabinet, the leaders of 
the Opposition, all the embassies, and scattered 
careless cards over Who's Who. Nor was he mis- 
taken in his estimates, for, on the night— a warm 
June evening — there was no standing-room in the 
house, while carriages overflowed from the side 
turnings from Hanover to Grosvenor Square. He 
was very happy, though all the time he wanted to 
get away to see the Daily Gazette through the press. 
He hated to let Swinbrook do what he liked with it. 
And he was nervous. He was afraid that the society 
reporters in the hall would fail to recognize some 
celebrity. Also, he felt rather strange, though he 
had got over the difficulties of introduction by shak- 
ing hands with everybody, and hoping that they 
would recognize him from the numerous photographs 
of himself which he had scattered about the house; 
this conveyed the strength of his conjugal affections, 
for everybody would conclude that they had been 
put there by Vi. For a moment he stood in the mid- 
dle of the big drawing-room, pleased and uneasy. 
To his surprise, this refined party bellowed more 
loudly than any social. He had hired some very 
expensive singers, but he did not mind the waste, 
for he knew that music made people talk. And, 
anyhow, nobody could miss the Blue Hungarian 
band on the leads; nothing but artillery could have' 

176 



*8? UPPER BROOK STREET °g 

stifled that. The women were splendid, and at first 
aloof, women different from those he had known. 
Lady Maud was very impressive in rich yellow 
satin, appliqued with white silk motifs; a shy blonde 
in ivory silk, her bodice veiled with lace and strapped 
with turquoise panne, made him feel crude. And 
there was a peeress of recent creation, a splendid 
creature in black satin veiled with a tunic of chenille. 
They thronged about him, colored, scented; some 
haughty, many fulsome, conquered and conquering. 
He had not before now realized how small women 
could make their waists, and how dominating their 
busts. His eyes rested in bewilderment rather than 
desire on these massive shoulders and thick arms, 
those necks collared with pearls, that shining hair, 
dressed high, sometimes crowned with tiaras, some- 
times with ostrich feathers. Vi was very handsome, 
but looked swarthy in her gown of pink-and-white 
striped moire, with ruches of chiffon. She was more 
at ease than he. Having begun shyly, she realized 
that the damage was now done, and as she was being 
profusely introduced by Lady Maud and Colonel 
Bagshot, she realized, with the dawning contempt 
which is the seed of social success, that under- 
secretaries will fight for ices. 

So the social life went on as it had begun. An 
extraordinarily expensive chef was bribed away from 
a big hotel, and the publicity given to the guests at 
Buhner's dinner-parties was such that by degrees 
hardly anybody refused an invitation. Within a 
year Vi, still clumsy, still entirely incompetent, was 
driving every afternoon to a variety of at-homes. 
Several times a week Bulmer would escape for an 

177 



*% CALIBAN °£ 

hour from the office to appear at some at-home, at 
a first night, or at the opera. He was doing this 
now without knowing why he did it, for he was of 
those who violently desire a thing until they obtain 
it, and then desire it no more. Besides, his interests 
were changing; he had started the Daily Gazette in 
a zip mood, and for a little while it looked like a 
weekly paper issued every day. He was still a child, 
for he had unlimited wonder, insatiable curiosity, 
bat he did not wonder in the abstract, or prostrate 
his spirit before the singularity of man and the 
mystery of beauty. Always his curiosity led him to 
such questions as "Is Latin worth while?" "Do 
girls prefer clean-shaven men?" "Should women 
smoke?" The fate of the world, the significance of 
life, were not things that troubled him, but he was 
excited by the relationship between material things 
and material persons. It was Swinbrook deflected 
him, for Swinbrook, very Scotch, very obstinate, 
and extraordinarily reliable, looked upon politics as 
the duty of man. He became very familiar with 
Bulmer because he was constructive. He did not 
irritate him as did Ormesby, who was always able 
to explain why a thing couldn't be done; Swinbrook, 
in his conferences with Bulmer, was continually 
pressing him to cut out some of the woman's page 
and to take a political line. 

"Well, we're Liberals," said Bulmer, exasperated. 

"We're not. We're only non-Tory. Oh, I know 
we're independent. But one can't stay independent. 
It's the one thing democracy won't allow." 

"Ob, we don't want to stuff the paper with in- 
digestible stuff about education and all that." 

178 



^ UPPER BROOK STREET 12 

Swinbrook won by degrees, for Bulmer could not 
resist taking up a cause. He did not much care 
what cause, but he realized that unless he backed 
something he couldn't bash something else; the exag- 
geration of his feelings impelled him to bash. Already 
he lacked coolness, and was influenced by his own 
papers, for, having raised a scare over Irish unrest, 
he was thrown into a state of delighted terror by a 
cattle-drive near Kilkenny and a little rick-burning 
in County Cork. 

"It's revolution," he said to Swinbrook. "The 
country is going to be drowned in blood." 

Swinbrook laughed at him, and persuaded him 
that in this world there never was a revolution until 
it happened. He found his chief difficult to control, 
because Bulmer scared himself with his own scares. 
But he liked him. Old in his trade, he enjoyed the 
vivacity of this young man who exuded ideas and 
excitements on the slightest stimulus. He liked to 
comfort Bulmer when four thousand miners struck 
in South Wales and his young chief assured him 
that socialism would be established next week. 
He liked to restore his confidence in mankind, shat- 
tered by some corruption case. When such a case 
grew public Bulmer always declared that the com- 
mercial world was rotten to the core, and insisted 
on flaming articles denouncing the canker of the 
city. Sometimes he irritated Swinbrook, who, 
toward the end of the year, nearly left the Daily 
Gazette. Bulmer had instructed him to take a strong 
line in favor of coloring margarine either deep yellow 
or pale pink, so as to make it impossible to pass it 

off as butter. Accidentally Silas Hassop saw the 

179 



% CALIBAN *8? 

copy on Ormesby's desk, and, terrified, rang up 
Bulmer, explaining that the margarine firms would 
be furious, and that this would cost the Gazette 
ten or twelve thousand a year in advertise- 
ments. After a long argument, which Bulmer 
maintained because he hated to be opposed, he told 
the advertisement manager to tell Swinbrook to hold 
up the article. The same evening Bulmer, at a club 
dinner, sat next to the under-secretary in charge of 
the bill. The politician, aware of his opportu- 
nity, turned Bulmer in favor of peculiar colors for 
margarine. 

When, next morning, Bulmer opened his Daily 
Gazette and found no article in support of the bill, 
he flung himself upon the telephone with insane 
fury. He got Swinbrook out of bed, only to be told 
that Hassop had given his message. Upon which 
he telephoned Hassop, and, taking no notice of the 
unfortunate American's protests, that they had the 
day before settled to let margarine alone, he shouted : 

"How dare you say that I said the article wasn't 
to go in? How dare you suggest I'd be influenced 
in my policy by a question of advertisements?" He 
repeatedly interrupted Hassop, and again and again 
challenged him to dare to say that he had altered 
his orders, to dare to suggest that he, Richard Bul- 
mer, had changed his mind or had been wrong. 
Finally he slammed the receiver down, and had his 
breakfast, greatly injured by the idiotic, literal spirit 
of his underlings. He felt right because he could 
not conceive himself in the wrong. It was not that 
he lacked modesty; indeed, he received the most 
obscure strangers and questioned them, anxious to 

180 



*$ UPPER BROOK STREET % 

find out all they knew of mining in Arizona, training 
peach-trees, or living happily, though married. But 
his modesty was the Daily Gazette modesty; he was 
modest because he wanted information as an offer- 
ing at the shrine of the newspaper god; he wanted 
no guidance for himself, and when he had this in- 
formation, if anything in it affronted by prejudices, 
he distorted it to fit the policy of the Daily Gazette, 
because the policy of the paper was its soul, and 
nothing repulsive could be laid before it. Then, once 
it was in the paper it was true, and he believed it 
because Bulmer was his own newspaper as soon as 
his newspaper appeared. 

It was, therefore, a stormy, irregular guidance 
he gave the paper, but somehow it fitted the people 
and the times. He knew their slackness of mind 
and their hysteria, because his own mind was care- 
less of detail and easily shaken. So he never tried 
them too far, which Swinbrook was inclined to do. 

"Hang it all," said Swinbrook, "you can't write 
a political article that Tl be understood by telegraph 
boys." 

"Then if it can't be understood by telegraph 
boys," said Buhner, "let it go; it's no use to us. 
But, Swinbrook, I say it can be understood. If 
you've got unusual ideas you must put them in such 
a way as to be understood by usual people. Never 
go ahead as fast as you might, for the public never 
goes quite as fast as you. You can only get ahead 
of public opinion by swimming up-stream; it's very 
tiring. And nobody will follow vou, because it's too 
tiring." 

"You don't suggest we should swim down- 

181 



°S CALIBAN °$ 

stream?" sneered Swinbrook. "Like the Conserv- 
atives." 

"No. Everybody wants to swim up-stream, and 
nobody wants to do the work. If you've got a 
political line, swim across the stream, a bit up 
rather than down. The public can just about man- 
age that. And once every three months swim up- 
stream for a week, just to show 'em you can do it." 

He impressed his staff by this contemptuous 
clarhVy, and soon stories began to radiate about him; 
Napoleonic remarks, mainly. For he began to cul- 
tivate these, and his vanity enlarged. Quite seri- 
ously he told Linton that he was the best-known 
man in London. 

"I can't go down Pall Mall," he said, "without 
some man jerking his head toward me and saying 
to his friend: 'Look, that's Bulmer. Runs the 
Daily Gazette. He's the coming man.' " 

His staff did not mind his boasting, for he was 
charming as a child that demands attention when at 
last it manages to ride a bicycle. Sometimes his 
vanity was hurt ; already a member of the Automo- 
bile Club and of the Gadarene, he was blackballed at 
the Mausoleum. He had tried it too early; thence- 
forth he devoted valuable scraps of space to the 
august stupidity, to the lumpishness of the Mauso- 
leum Club. He was the original author of the story 
which makes a member of the Mausoleum Club 
ring for the waiter and say to him, pointing at a 
fellow-member: "Charles, please take that gentle- 
man away. He's been dead for two days." 

In fact, he was happy in this life akin to a bazaar. 
Not only were his papers rising in circulation, not 

182 



H UPPER BROOK STREET *» 

only was he achieving the flattery of a number of 
enemies, but he discovered the joy of buying. In 
the early days he bought, with the avidity of a mag- 
pie, quantities of clothes, fancy socks and ties, ex- 
pensive jewelry, things he used once and then for- 
got (they were eventually stolen by his valet). In 
those months he bought a cottage in Sussex and a 
shooting-box in Scotland. Then sold them, for at that 
time he never left London. He bought thousands of 
books which he never read, collected editions bound 
in white vellum, and amazing compilations of Napo- 
leonic and Bismarckian intrigue. When he could 
buy nothing else he bought a newspaper; when it 
was ill edited he laughed, when it was well edited 
he swore. Newspapers fed his appetite. He re- 
ceived newspapers from America, from every coun- 
try in the world, even Japan. He could not read 
them all in their languages, but their strange make- 
up, the feel of their smudged pages, gave him a little 
sensual thrill. Every hour brought its excitement, 
and every night its joyful weariness. 
13 



Chapter III 
Politics 

IT was characteristic of Bulmer that he liked his 
staff. It was not that he doubted himself; in- 
deed, if an employee criticized or qualified some 
suggestion, he was half angry, half injured. He was 
angry because he was opposed, and injured because 
it hurt him to be deprived of approval. He never 
made much concession to the views of his editors, 
and so often he would spend half an hour in verbose 
restatements of his case, whirling facts, throwing out 
with broad indiscretion statements that were not 
Cabinet secrets, but which had come to him through 
officials in a semi-confidential garb. When he failed 
to convince or impose his will, he was for the rest of 
the day oppressed by a feeling that the man who had 
escaped him did not believe in him. It was very pain- 
ful, for, after all, his staff were members of the pub- 
lic, and the public had no right to doubt him. That 
was perhaps why he liked Singleton, the news sub., 
almost as much as Swinbrook. For Singleton was 
completely malleable, and almost invariably replied, 
"Boss, you're right." Singleton honestly thought 
that the boss was right, but he said so more often 
than anybody else. He was a young man, had been 
a reporter on a bicycle in the Midlands, had earned 

184 



*g POLITICS H 

an uncertain living, sometimes as a racing prophet, 
sometimes as a reviewer on religious weeklies. Bul- 
mer picked him up when he was an advertisement 
writer, having been enchanted by a parody of Ham- 
let's soliloquy which advertised a well-known brand 
of mustard. When he interviewed him he discovered 
his experience, and said, a la Napoleon: 

"I'll make you news editor." As if he nad said, 
"Rise, Sir James Singleton." 

Jimmy Singleton, thanks to this favor, practically 
duplicated Ash, by stunts. He was valuable to Bul- 
mer, infinitely inquisitive, entirely callous. His de- 
termination to obtain the views of widows before 
their husbands (killed on the railway) were quite 
cold aroused the admiration of Buhner. Also, he 
had a pleasant taste in sensation, and made the 
Daily Gazette police news wage successful competi- 
tion with that of the Daily Telegraph. Latterly he 
had been specializing in divorce, because this enabled 
him to hold up to a shocked but delighted public 
the worst details and the noblest sentiments. This, 
perhaps, had something to do with the political de- 
velopment of the Daily Gazette. One day he printed 
a long report of the irregularities of a Welsh Non- 
conformist minister. 

"It's all right," said Bulmer. "I'm not blaming 
you. Only, you see, next time, when you've got the 
option between a peer and a pastor, well, bash the 
peer." 

"All right, boss, though of course you know 
there's nothing like a touch of religion to make a 
sex story spicy." 

"Yes, I know. If it was the Church of England, 

185 



* CALIBAN "£ 

I shouldn't mind so much. And if you catch a car- 
dinal on the hop, well, keep him hopping. But let 
the Nonconformists alone. After all, we're a Liberal 
paper." 

"Yes, boss," said Singleton, "you're quite right, 
though we haven't so much political news." 

Buhner said nothing, but thought a good deal 
about this for a few days. He didn't really want 
political news, but it annoyed him that Singleton 
should say that the Daily Gazette didn't have a lot 
of everything. He talked to Ash about it a little 
later, saying, abruptly: 

"It's all very well our being political. But it 
compromises one." 

"You mean," said Ash, "that popular feeling may 
turn." 

"Oh, I don't care if popular feeling turns. I'll 
turn first. It's not that. It ties you down." 

And yet, before 1902 was done, the Daily Gazette 
became excessively political. Liberalism was natu- 
ral in Bulmer. The membership of a party being 
made up of two categories — one which supports its 
party because it loves it, the other, much larger, 
which supports its party because it hates the opposi- 
tion — Bulmer was a Liberal because, like Stendhal's 
hero, Sorel, he was a man conscious of low degree 
and of high attainments. He was attaining, and he 
knew that already people respected him more than 
any backwoods peer, but he hated the class which 
he was entering because he had had to enter it. He 
was established in the country of wealth and power, 
but not as a citizen born within its frontiers; he was 
a soldier who had conquered that country, and from 

186 



*g POLITICS * 

time to time tested the dryness of his powder lest the 
natives, slavish and hostile, should rise against him. 

But these were vague feelings. What actually 
drove Bulmer into violent Liberalism was Lord 
Immingham. He had only seen the famous general 
once, at a political lunch-party. He did not like 
his face, the large, rather square head, the thick 
cheeks, the mouth which, under the heavy mustache, 
seemed contemptuous; above all, he hated the cold, 
hard eyes, and the heavy eyelid that drooped over 
a gaze full of indifference. What maddened Bulmer 
was that the speaker who toasted Lord Immingham 
said a few rather aggressive things against the gov- 
ernment's policy, of which Immingham had been 
the instrument in South Africa. When the general 
rose to reply he made no reference whatever to those 
attacks. In a hoarse, tired voice, he pronounced 
three sentences of thanks, and sat down, looking at 
the wall as if he had forgotten that two hundred 
people were gathered about him. 

Immingham exasperated Bulmer, for he was not 
impressed by people who said nothing ; he concluded 
that they had nothing to say. And Lord Imming- 
ham stank of Toryism, of crack regiments, raised 
noble eyebrows. The sight of this self-assured, solid 
figure drove Bulmer toward the rising working-man, 
likely to keep a shop or run a big factory, but un- 
likely to take his place among the bigwigs, with th en- 
titles and garters and brochettes of medals. It 
then occurred to Bulmer that he would like a title 
himself. That did not prevent him feeling demo- 
cratic; he was democratic for others. 

Those political activities helped Bulmer at what 

187 



*S? CALIBAN U 

might have been a crisis in his life. Quite suddenly, 
after seven years of matrimony, for a reason which 
seemed small but was rooted in deep causes, Vi left 
him. The breach seemed to arise from a mistake 
Vi made at lunch. Bulmer, having discovered the 
smart lunch-party, entertained ten carefully selected 
guests, a political peer and his wife, three rising 
capitalists and the wives they had married before 
they rose, a well-known lady novelist, and an A. R. A. 
A microcosm of English society. Now, Vi figured 
fairly well at evening parties, partly because she had 
fine shoulders and arms, and partly because there 
excess did not matter much. At lunch she appeared 
in an afternoon dress, against which there was noth- 
ing to say, for Vi was completely controlled by her 
dressmaker; but she wore nearly all her jewelry. 
Suddenly, in the middle of lunch, Bulmer compared 
her with the other women. She was wearing three 
bracelets, a collar of pearls, two diamond brooches, 
and many rings. For some time he gazed with 
aversion at those jeweled hands, telling himself in 
ejaculations which nearly became audible: "Wom- 
an's mad! unteachable! Make us the laughing-stock 
of the town!" At last he grew so angry that he did 
not look at her again until the guests were gone. 
Then he slammed the door and, practically running 
to and fro in the drawing-room, told her in a speech 
abundantly garnished with oaths that she looked 
like a publican's wife and behaved like one. That 
he was sick of it. And sick of her. And that she 
could go to hell for all he cared. 
He was amazed when Vi took it quietly and 

replied : 

188 



*8 POLITICS 






"So am I sick of it. So am I sick of you. You 
treat me like a bit of furniture. Might as well not 
be there. Yes, I'll go. May as well separate, for all 
the good we're doing together." 

Buhner was shocked into silence. It was strange 
to see loose language freezing into material form. 
But that was not the end. With sudden shrillness, 
Vi, her dark cheeks red-brown, her hands on her 
hips, let forth all that she had suffered for seven 
years by loneliness, by exile into a class which was 
not hers; she was too big, too angry to be pathetic; 
she abused him, inflamed by a sense of wrong, be- 
cause he had torn her from the place to which she 
belonged, and given her no other. He had sus- 
pended her in a new life. When she grew breath- 
less Bulmer said: 

"All right. Since we're agreed, it's no use arguing. 
Let me know your address and I'll see you get a 
good allowance." 

The shock hung over him as be went to the Daily 
Gazette. He felt uprooted. Probably it was not 
true. She wouldn't go. She knew which side her 
bread was buttered. Still he was afraid that she 
might go. It would make a scandal. And he wished 
she would go; her brooding sulkiness sickened him, 
now that he knew she felt wronged. But, above 
all, he was insulted because he had failed to provide 
her with the life she wanted, because he had mis- 
gaged her. Vi, too, was part of the public. 

From time to time in the following weeks he felt 

a little ache. He did not miss her, exactly; he was 

too busy to miss human beings. But she had 

eluded him; she had not loved him or gone on loving 

189 



% CALIBAN g 

him. And it was so hard not to be loved, not to 
impose oneself upon an available sentiment. 

It was this, perhaps, combined with other factors, 
drove him into politics. He had nothing much to 
gain in the way of money, for he was drawing twelve 
thousand a year from the Daily Gazette; his own six 
publications yielded him another nine thousand; 
Mr. Cole and Mr. Wartle had long ago been bought 
out. He still desired money because money was the 
evidence of power. If one made money out of news- 
papers, it meant that people read them, people be- 
lieved in them, followed them. There was no other 
test. So the winter was occupied by savage attacks 
on the Education Act put up by the Unionist Gov- 
ernment. Bulmer left to the Daily News and the Daily 
Chronicle the solid case for popular control of the 
schools, and concentrated on the delicious exercise 
of vilifying the Church party. By degrees his spe- 
cial writers dug up every known case of clerical 
tyranny, whether in the schools, on the land, or in 
charitable institutions. He cared nothing for relig- 
ious questions, but by degrees he convinced himself 
through the Daily Gazette that the cleric in the 
schools was something bloated and obscene, a slug 
with a touch of octopus. He engaged learned old 
men from the Rationalist Association, who quoted 
everv day choice scraps of Haeckel and Voltaire. 

"Voltaire!" he said, "that'll fetch the brainy 
lot." 

But Bulmer did not bother much about the brainy 
lot; there weren't enough of them. His appeal was 
entirely to the mob. He was one of the first to 
introduce a daily cartoon into a halfpenny paper, 

190 



« POLITICS « 

having discovered an amazingly fecund young Cana- 
dian, who signed himself "Rob" and executed 
exactly what the boss dreamed. 

"Got to get a standard Church schoolmaster. 
See what I mean? Something people '11 recognize 
at sight like Mr. Pickwick. Or the Sleeping Beauty. 
I want a foxy-looking individual. See what I mean? 
Nosing about and getting hold of the people's money 
for the Church schools. That's it. You give him a 
fox's head and stick a shovel hat on top. And the 
eye: mind you, give him a sly eye. You know how 
to do it; sort of eye that looks backward, as if it was 
afraid the police was after it. See what I mean?" 

"Rob" saw what Bulmer meant, and soon the 
shovel-hatted fox was so popular that a toy manu- 
facturer sold great quantities of models of "Rob's" 
creation outside Hyde Park, when demonstrations 
took place against the bill. 



Chapter IV 
Sisters and Others 

BULMER did not at first feel the absence of Vi. 
She had lived with him so long that her depart- 
ure did not break his physical habits; she had dealt 
so little with the government of the house that with- 
out her it went on much the same. For Buhner, 
when taking the house, told himself that he ought 
to have the usual servants. As he did not know 
what servants to engage, and realized that Vi would 
not rise beyond cook, parlor-maid, and housemaid, 
he went into a registry office in North Audley Street, 
the notices of which had impressed him. He was 
rather bewildered by the complexities, especially by 
names such as between-maid, under-nurse, and espe- 
cially groom of the chamber. Footmen, too, were 
very perplexing. Servants seemed as varied as sub- 
editors. And he knew more about sub-editors. So 
he entered the office, hiding tremor under breez- 
iness, and feeling that he was treading the maze of 
an intricate social system. It was very easy. The 
office grasped that his wife was not well enough to 
call. They grasped that he was a busy man. And 
that he was a rich man. They seemed to know him 
and his sort. So they charged him heavy fees, and, 

within a few days, Bulmer had to affect casualness 

192 



* SISTERS AND OTHERS U 

as he met many strange faces on the stairs. When 
Vi left him there was a housekeeper, a butler, a 
parlor-maid and her underling, a head housemaid 
and three attendants upon her, a cook of incom- 
prehensible nationality but great skill, and a tribe 
of troglodytes, kitchen-maids, scullery-maids, who 
did something or other round the cook in the cata- 
combs of the basement. 

For a while everything went well, for the house- 
keeper understood perfectly that Mrs. Bulmer had 
gone away for the sake of her health. Also, she was 
a woman of great ferocity, with a mouth so tight 
that one concluded that her late husband probably 
used upon it a hammer and chisel in the unlikely 
event of his wanting to kiss her. But the house- 
keeper could not figure as hostess, and though Bul- 
mer at his first dinner-party asked an odd woman, 
he realized that a hostess of some sort must be found. 
It was very embarrassing. He thought of electing 
some impoverished titled lady. Then he realized 
that everybody would say she was to him more than 
a hostess. He also realized that she probably would 
become more than a hostess. He didn't mind that, 
but he didn't want to have it said. A book he had 
glanced at, on the Regent and his period, held up 
the temptation of splendid and flaming irregulari- 
ties. He pictured himself imposing upon London 
society, crawling before the Daily Gazette, some 
Spanish dancer whom they would accept because 
he dared to flaunt her. 

Only he knew that wouldn't do in the Liberal 
party; in fact, in any party. A political party ex- 
pects one to have a door between oneself and one's 

193 



« CALIBAN *$ 

diversions, even if everybody knows that one has 
the key. 

It was this brought him to invite Eleanor and 
Henrietta to keep house for him. At least, he began 
by inviting them, and ended by coercing them. 
Hettie was willing, but Eleanor clung to Carlton 
Vale much as the old gentlemen clung to their office 
in the middle of the Daily Gazette building. But 
she had given up her piano lessons, and when Bulmer, 
exasperated, threatened to cut off their allowance, 
she surrendered, and arrived with trunks in a state 
that shocked the boot-boy, and a parrot in a cage 
which later caused much trouble, because Bulmer 
influenced the bird to remark, at frequent intervals, 
"Cock a doodle do! Daily Gazetted It took several 
months to acclimatize the sisters to the spacious life. 
The banking accounts which were forced on them 
terrified them: such balances must be ill-gotten. 
The servants were too many to manage, and the 
housekeeper did not look as if she could be managed 
at all. Also, they discovered the characters of the 
servants: the butler lived mainly on port; some- 
thing was going on between the third housemaid 
and the second footman, something that seemed to 
make them both contented with the place, and so 
could not be quite nice; as for the cook, she was prob- 
ably abusive in her own language, but nobody knew 
what that was. And Bulmer was not much use: 
when his sisters explained, he told them with the 
fine disdain of details which characterizes the male 
householder, that the house had gone on nicely for 
two years, and he wished to heaven thev'd let it 
alone. 

194 



jfe SISTERS AND OTHER S H> 

There was a certain amount of trouble because 
Ellie tried to audit the weekly books, and discovered 
that the laundry bill alone would have run the house 
at Carlton Vale for a week. As for cigars, obviously 
the guests took them away in their pockets, in 
handfuls. 

"Oh, let the tobacco alone," roared Buhner. 
"Moss 11 pay that sort of bill in future. What's it 
matter if they do take 'em away?" Then he grew 
absorbed, for he was wondering whether it would 
be good policy to arrange for a special brand of 
cigar with a Daily Gazette band. 

They settled down by degrees. Hettie, being of 
a malleable disposition, and having always been 
dented by life, fitted easily into the massive 
contours of the expensive life. She was forty- 
one, and could still dream; she very much enjoyed 
having money to spend in Bond Street on little bags, 
sachets, handkerchief cases, brushes with tortoise- 
shell backs; and, secretly, after hanging for a while 
at a corner in Regent Street, she began to buy scent. 
Also, she indulged in benefactions, so Buhner handed 
her the begging letters he received every morning. 
Hettie was supposed to show these to Eleanor, who 
belonged to the Society for the Prevention of Charity, 
but she often managed to hide one or two in a book 
and benefit the unworthy. By degrees, Hettie col- 
lected committees, and soon filled in two or three 
afternoons a week, rather faded, rather pretty, gen- 
erally clad in mauve or pale gray, in some Mayfair 
drawing-room, where good works were performed 
and notorieties achieved. People thought her sen- 
timental, but when she was attacked Hettie replied: 

195 



% CALIBAN *K 

"Poor people! It's not nice begging for money, 
is it? Who'd do it if they weren't poor?" 

So Hettie interested herself in orphans, in un- 
married mothers, found homes for inebriates, and 
legal defense for bullied wives. 

Eleanor was much more difficult. Her economical 
habit, notably, irritated her brother, who could not 
understand why Hettie so easily became overdrawn, 
while Ellie's balance was turning into a permanent 
institution. 

"Oh, do go out and spend something," he said, 
once, after meeting her in the hall carrying a brown 
paper parcel containing an egg-box. "What's that? 
An egg-box! I say, Ellie, you know, you collect egg- 
boxes. It's like that time years ago when you sent 
those twelve pots of jam to Mrs. Feltham, through 
Polly. You remember, you made Polly bring back 
the box." 

"That was for a different reason," said Eleanor. 
"I didn't want Mrs. Feltham to have the trouble of 
posting it back." 

"No, but you didn't mind Polly having the trouble 
of bringing it back, let alone that it could have gone 
by rail." 

Eleanor did not reply. She had always sent par- 
cels through relatives, for she still lived in the illusion 
that postage was as expensive as in Victorian times. 
As for Polly, she said: 

"Why shouldn't Polly have the trouble of bring- 
ing back the box? She was a relation." 

Bulmer argued a little. He did not know why it 
irritated him that Eleanor should assume that she 
had the right to worry her relations. She had told 

196 



°g SISTERS AND OTHERS °$ 

him before that relations were part of oneself. Yes, 
she was very difficult. She was humble and aggres- 
sive, and once her support was enlisted she grew 
entirely unjust. Having discovered the irregulari- 
ties of the butler, the housemaid, and the footmen, 
and knowing nothing against the others, she con- 
cluded that they were perfect. Eleanor was blind 
to their faults as well as to their qualities. She lived 
in a black-and-white world. When attacked, she 
always justified her prejudices in favor of or against 
a person by displaying the other side. If one went 
on attacking her she thought one was calling her a 
fool. So Eleanor made few friends; she was not 
naturally hostile, but people disappointed her. First, 
she failed to understand them, and assumed in them 
inhuman goodness; then she found them out. If 
she had been more sagacious she would have drawn 
away from all her fellow-creatures. For a time it 
looked as if Miss Brede, who lived in the country and 
had rigid views as to the lower classes, would become 
her friend. Together they went twice to the British 
Museum, and once to the Albert Hall on Sunday 
afternoon. But at last Miss Brede showed her 
humanity by coming up to town, going to a dance, 
and coming very near to getting engaged. She then 
attempted to get Eleanor to prove an alibi, so that 
her mother, who was then in town, might not know 
that her daughter had not come to her at once. 

"Til do nothing of the kind," said Eleanor. "I 
think you have done very wrong. You have a duty 
to your parents, who have to support you and edu- 
cate you. You don't seem to think you owe them 

anything." 

197 



*g CALIBAN *g 

"Well, I don't owe them everything," said Miss 
Brede. 

"You owe them companionship," said Eleanor. 

"I give them a lot, poor dears," said Miss Brede, 
"and as we generally quarrel I don't think they 
want so much more." 

So Eleanor lost Miss Brede. Besides, she had 
never liked her way of never looking at a mirror, 
because, as she said, she had a snub nose. Eleanor 
thought it right to look at oneself in the glass if one 
thought oneself ugly; it prevented conceit. 

So Eleanor, unable to control the household, dis- 
approving of the surrounding waste, had very little 
to do, and indulged enormously in fancy work. Bul- 
mer gained a smile from the fine cut lips when once 
he handed her The Modern Priscilla, straight from 
America, a publication entirely devoted to fancy 
work. He was not so displeased with her as he 
thought he would be, for after a long struggle, during 
which Hettie wept, Eleanor was persuaded to give 
up her former type of evening frock, which was too 
low for the day and too high for the night. Experi- 
ence forced her into a modern gown, where, to her 
brother's surprise, she exhibited delicate and palely 
yellowish arms and shoulders, She was forty-three, 
but the rigidity of her life went well with her fine 
eyes and her high nose. Now that her hair was 
washed and waved she was rather an impressive 
figure, and though she frequently abused his policy, 
though she detested the Daily Gazette and even dared 
in his presence to look at the Daily Mail (which she 
only did to annoy him, for she hated it as much 
as the Gazette), though she found the people who 

198 



*$ SISTERS AND OTHERS *8 

came to the house too gawky when they were poor,, 
and too coarse when they were rich, she learned to 
live the new life. And the eyebrows which she 
raised in protest imparted to her a pleasant flavor 
of disdain. 

Besides, Upper Brook Street was merely Buhner's 
home, merely the place where he slept and enter- 
tained — he lived at the corner of Fleet Street, in the 
Daily Gazette offices. The tenants of the adjacent 
houses were being persuaded out, or driven out by 
noise, and the building was slowly extending along 
the frontage. The Daily Gazette still enshrined Bul- 
mer's soul, and the affairs of his emotions served 
him as a relaxation, much as golf serves other men. 
He had been faithful to Vi, not out of any sense of 
fine discrimination, but because he was too busy to 
entangle himself in affairs which meant time wasted 
on rides in cabs, lengthy lunches, and giving women 
the attention the unreasonable creatures demand if 
they are to be kept in a good temper. But now Vi 
was gone. She had, inefficiently enough, represented 
woman, so he sought the sympathetic contact which 
he needed, mainly in arms that were venal. He 
was not satisfied, but he was not quite unhappy. 
Woman, and all she might mean to him, was a secret 
thing. And secret things were not dominant in 
Buhner. After all, if a thing was secret it was anti- 
pathetic to publicity. 

In the course of the incredibly wet summer of 
1903 he began and ended an affair with a woman of 
title, a big, handsome, bony woman, whose cheeks 
came straight down from her head and formed a chin 
of great determination. She had very fine eyes, 
14 199 



*$ CALIBAN % 

that seldom blinked; beautiful lips, the smile of 
which seldom varied; ropes of hair excellently 
waved. She was molded into her clothes, and 
whether she wore an evening frock or a riding-habit 
everything fitted her. One could guess by looking 
at her that under her clothes every hook, eye, and 
button was not only present, but done up ; her stay- 
laces were so arranged that when she undid them the 
two ends proved exactly equal in length. 

She made him happy in a way. Her intimacy 
flattered him, and she was intelligent enough to 
understand him, but she was not soft enough to 
sympathize with him. She gave him a relation duly 
dosed with passion, devoid of longing, of uncer- 
tainty, in which lay no search for the union that is 
impossible and that all desire. His passage in her 
life was like a promenade through the formal beauty 
of the garden of Versailles. 

It did not last long. It was not exactly that she 
did not care for him nor he for her, but she had 
given him only what he knew, and what he wanted 
was the unknown. When he talked to her of his 
plans and ambitions he was crying out to her, beg- 
ging her to lift him out of the successful life, begging 
her to make him forget his own desires in the misty 
fulfilment that a woman can afford when upon a 
man she sheds the incredible gift of making him 
ready for fraud, cruelty, and treachery. Instead, 
she asked him to take her brother into the Daily 
Gazette. Bulmer saw him, thought him alfool, and 
refused. Then he grew clumsy, talked of starting 
the young man on some job; if she wanted any 
money he'd manage it for her. She hardly said 

200 



][> SISTERS AND OTHERS *g 

anything, and to the end of his life he never under- 
stood how much he had outraged her, for she was a 
member of the English aristocracy, so she had the 
mind of a tout; she could accept patronage, but 
must refuse gold. He did not understand that she 
had a pride of class which made it impossible for her 
to take money, but made it natural for her to de- 
mand an advancement which she thought due to 
her class. 

So Bulmer was thrown back into the casual life. 
The woman did not matter so much after all. He 
had not hesitated to sacrifice her dignified amorous- 
ness to the Daily Gazette. Half unconsciously he 
told himself that he might have wholly loved her, if 
he could have loved her enough to sacrifice some- 
thing of the paper to her whim. Instead, the Daily 
Gazette captured him more completely. He played 
with it as a toy, and sometimes, for fun, he made it 
carry a new man or a new picture into fame. It 
really was fun . . . like making confetti with a filing 
punch. He happened to see a play at that time 
called "The Meadow "; all three acts happened in 
the open air. This struck him as a new thing. So 
he printed an enthusiastic notice of "The Meadow," 
and though the play was doing so badly that it was 
near being taken off, it immediately boomed. By 
next day it was booked ahead for three weeks. Bul- 
mer grew intoxicated with "The Meadow," and fol- 
lowed it up by articles on open-air life by well-known 
actors, fashionable doctors, and nut-eaters. The 
boom was so big that, within three months, five 
theaters were staging open-air plays. And the boom 
rolled on, diminishing, but still sturdy, into the next 

201 



*g CALIBAN * c % 

year, until open-air plays were replaced by a new- 
craze — plays in which everybody wore pajamas. 

Buhner was very busy. He went not only to first 
nights, but was advised in advance of the latest 
thing. Thus he was present when the first eight 
miles of electric tramways were opened by the 
London County Council between Westminster, 
Waterloo, and Blackfriars. Buhner was interested 
because this was the first electric tramway in Lon- 
don. xAlso, the ceremony restored his friendship with 
Tarland, now an electrical engineer. He was glad 
to recover Tarland, and also he respected him, for 
Tarland said that he was no writer and refused to 
compose an article for the Daily Gazette. He was 
the first and only man Bulmer ever met who could 
do such a thing. 

He was very busy. He was not happy. He was 
not unhappy. He was very busy — mainly that. 



Chapter V 
Full Swing 

IT followed, naturally, on his normal state of over- 
work, that Bulmer should easily respond to irri- 
tation. In one of those fits of unreasonable reaction, 
he created the Evening Gazette, just because he had 
read in an obscure American publication that the 
public had to be battered twice a day if it was to 
think once. It also said that the secret of Sir Alfred 
Harmsworth's power had as much to do with the Eve- 
ning News as with the Daily Mail. Bulmer brought 
his fist down on the table, and said to Swinbrook: 

"We got to have an evening paper, and pretty 
damn quick." 

Bulmer took no notice of his editor's apparently 
sound advice when Swinbrook pointed out that the 
Daily Gazette was three years old and wanted all the 
money and energy Bulmer could afford if it was to 
become an established habit in six hundred thousand 
readers ... to say nothing of the million-odd at 
which they were aiming. But Bulmer was never 
afraid of lacking money. "Good men," he said, 
"find backers." In this case his contract to control 
for five years yielded him a 30 per cent, capital 
share, which he later increased to 57 per cent, 
when new shares were issued, and ultimately 
to 78 when Uncle Bradley's executors sold out. 

203 



•8? CALIBAN *8? 

On this day of inspiration he saw, as usual, many 
people, the typical clients of a Liberal paper, 
earnest men, anxious to spiritualize England; capi- 
talists, insinuating that free trade was excellent for 
all except their own industry, wronged Hindus, 
young men with complete plans for the organization 
of the future, and old men with pitiful anecdotes of 
the past. Bulmer saw them, bled them of informa- 
tion, gave one on order, the other a brief negative, 
picked up the telephone whenever it rang, and read 
most of the next issue in proof. But all through 
floated the new idea. And it floated for twenty-five 
days, to which was added a week's running in blank. 
Within those thirty-two days the premises were ex- 
tended; second-hand plant was mixed with new. 
And the Evening Gazette started, or rather exploded; 
for Bulmer realized that the first duty of a new-comer 
is to be noticed. So, at great cost, he induced three 
popular favorites, the sporting prophet of one 
publication, the city editor of another, and the 
cartoonist of a third, to hand in their notice and pay 
forfeits on their contracts. Their employers let them 
go, realizing that if they held them they would serve 
them ill. It was expensive, but Bulmer felt that it 
was worth while when, on the day of publication, 
he saw on every hoarding his new poster: 

IF YOU WANT TO READ "DEAD SNIP" 
YOU MUST READ THE EVENING GAZETTE 

IF YOU WANT TO READ "MONEY BAGS" 
YOU MUST READ THE EVENING GAZETTE 

IF YOU WANT A CARTOON BY "TIP" 
YOU MUST READ THE EVENING GAZETTE 

204 



*g FULL SWING 1? 

It was a thundering, dominating poster, for the 
retired colonels and the clergymen with a taste for 
speculation adored "Money Bags," while "Tip" 
clipped his pencil in vitriol and every day earned a 
million laughs. As for "Dead Snip," he was worth 
the two of them combined, for, at the time, one 
racing man out of every two, whether of the Cocoa 
Tree or White's, or whether he laid his shilling at 
the barber's, put his money on any horse that 
"Dead Snip" believed in. 

In the face of his immediate success Bulmer broke 
up that poster into three, and soon, round the prin- 
cipal towns, stuck in the meadows between Singer 
Cycles and Heinz's Baked Beans, appeared boards 
adjuring literate England, in the name either of 
"Money Bags," "Tip," or "Dead Snip," to buy 
the Evening Gazette. Bulmer invented nearly all 
his posters. A few failed, but most of them were 
very successful. Notably, there was a picture of 
Father Time clinging to the back of the Evening 
Gazette car. The old fellow had just lost his hour- 
glass, and in his hopeless effort to keep up with the 
Evening Gazette was throwing away his scythe. That 
poster was helped by the sudden attack of the op- 
position papers, who recalled the famous case of the 
peace announcement, when Bulmer had spoken a 
day too soon. Bulmer was very pleased. 

"Good business, Swinbrook, good business," he 
chuckled, walking up and down the office. "They're 
laying into us like billy-oh! Talk of a free adver- 
tisement! Oh, if only I had a hundred thousand 
talkative enemies! Swinbrook, do you think you 
could find me a hundred men, say for five shillings 

205 



*» CALIBAN °% 

a day, to stand in Piccadilly Circus and other places 
where there's a crowd and shout: 'Down with the 
Evening Gazette! Down with Buhner!' Or a dem- 
onstration. Let's have a meeting in Trafalgar 
Square, and let 'em bring along a crowd to wreck 
the office." 

Swinbrook laughed, and these extremities were 
not resorted to. But Buhner did better than answer 
his critics; he plastered every space be could find 
with a scarlet and yellow poster, reading: 

DO YOU WANT TO-MORROW'S NEWS? 
IT'S IN THE EVENING GAZETTE 

And the Daily Gazette was brought in to conduct 
ferocious controversies with its sister evening paper, 
so that a double advertisement was gained, because 
the public grew anxious to see, morning and even- 
ing, what new nasty remarks they would make about 
each other. The only thing that Buhner did not do 
was to attack his critics. 

" Catch me advertising them!" he remarked. 

For Bulmer was most capable of cynical detach- 
ment. He showed it, notably, in the affair of the 
Daily Gazette tea, which that year he floated. A 
wild person called Tresillian, half planter, half chem- 
ist, had wandered into the office one afternoon and 
explained that in Ceylon shoots were cut too early; 
if one let the shoots grow one would get three pounds 
of tea for every one now got off the plant. Of 
course, it would be coarser, and weaker, but — 
and the man's yellow face showed a grin — one could, 
with a touch of tannic acid, bring it up not only to 

206 



*% FULL SWING *g 

standard, but up to the taste of the English masses. 
His tea would be darker than walnut stain, and 
strong as ink. As for the price, say eightpence a 
pound, including tax. Buhner flung himself on this 
proposal with intense enthusiasm. He had the tea 
analyzed and reported on by fashionable members 
of the Royal Society. He converted the product 
into what became the famous D. G. T., and invented 
a number of prominent posters, showing the weary 
miner as he refreshed himself with D. G. T. There 
was even a St. Bernard dog rescuing a snowbound 
traveler, and carrying a thermos flask labeled 
D. G. T. 

This was, of course, a great success. Bulmer 
never failed, because his taste was the average taste. 
He liked what the masses liked; the only difference 
was that he had the will to impose and they only the 
weakness to accept. He was entirely honest. In 
this case, having had it demonstrated that D. G. T. 
was chemically a good tea, he believed in it; when 
an opposition paper began to publish horrible 
stories of tea poisoning, he refused to take up 
the challenge. 

"No, Swinbrook," he said, "let 'em alone. There 
isn't any tea poisoning, and if I start talking about 
it I'll create an atmosphere, and people will get tea 
poisoning. If I say nothing about it they won't. 
Don't discuss a thing, and then it doesn't happen." 

"Well, I had an aunt," said Swinbrook, "who 
drank a couple of quarts a day. I think she died 
of it." 

"I never met anybody who died of tea poisoning," 
said Bulmer. 

207 



*g CALIBAN *3? 

That settled it. If Buhner had not seen a thing 
it was not, though he would have been quite ready 
to ignore poisoning if he could have conceived it. 
But to ignore was his one method of ending a diffi- 
culty; he suspended his enemy in an airless void. 
And, in due course, the enemy died. He would not 
deal with the enemy, and so, when feelers came to 
D. G. T. from rival tea firms, he merely remarked 
that this was a trap, and did not answer their letters. 
When offers came for amalgamation, and when it 
was suggested that some firms were going bank- 
rupt and would come cheaply into a combine, he 
said: 

" Trying to take us in by making out they're on 
their last legs. Another trap." 

The secret of his strength was that Bulmer be- 
lieved in D. G. T. As D. G. T. was praised in the 
Daily Gazette he believed in it. If he had arranged 
for a faked report (which he did not do) he would 
have believed in it once it was printed in his paper. 
In this case he more than believed in D. G. T.; he 
drank it. Eleanor created a disturbance when she 
tasted the new brew, but Hettie was very kind, and 
said it wasn't bad if you drowned it in water. He 
was so pleased that he gave her half a ton of D. G. T. 
for the poor. 

Then, one day, Bulmer forgot all about D. G. T., 
because he was excited by the discovery of radium. 
Also, Tarland was inflaming him with stories of 
electrified plant, which was just coming in. Those 
were fecund years, and in the thrill of riding on the 
first double-decked motor-bus from Oxford Circus 
to Peckham, Bulmer forgot D. G. T. Tresillian 

208 



% FULL SWING "g 

called in vain; the boom collapsed in twelve hours. 
Still, he had a fifth share in the company, worth to 
him ten thousand a year. Bulmer had not made 
a penny. But he had enjoyed himself. And he 
went on enjoying himself, for, fevered by the exam- 
ple of the Daily News, in four months he established 
new local offices with private wires and telephones; 
before the year was done, the Manchester Daily 
Gazette, the Glasgow Daily Gazette, and the Birming- 
ham Daily Gazette every morning shouted the Bulmer 
gospel to a placid England. 

In those days, when Bulmer was thirty-five, his 
condition of mind approximated with that of most 
men who want to be rich. It is a complex condi- 
tion; it shows sides which the world calls vicious 
or cruel, and sides which the world finds magnificent. 
It is the mind of Captain Kidd and the mind of 
Samuel Smiles; the one swift, the other slow; the 
one lawless, the other crafty. Bulmer amalgamated 
the mind of his brothers; he had Kidd's audacity, 
occasionally the prudence of Smiles; he could, like 
Pierpont Morgan, Senior, conceive broadly ; he had 
the original dash of Rothschild, bringing back before 
the government the news of Waterloo; he joined the 
ruthlessness of Crcesus, collecting treasure from the 
vanquished; with the cunning of Fouquet and Warren 
Hastings, controlling politics for power and profit. 
He was of the modern breed, with a touch of Cecil 
Rhodes, for he wanted money mainly for the sake 
of power. And also he wanted to make money 
because it was sport; he collected money as other 
men collected Rembrandt etchings. Nor was this 
quest entirely without mobility. He had some sym- 

209 



*8 CALIBAN *3? 

pathy with Sir William Lever, and often printed plans 
and descriptions of Port Sunlight, which were useful 
to the social movement of the day. He had no 
abstract impulse to do good, but he honestly desired 
good houses, good wages, security for the worker, 
and money in his purse to spend on pleasure. His 
ideal was the comfortable slave state. 

He liked material good things. He attached great 
value to the things money buys; to food, drink, 
tobacco, houses, pictures, clothes, motor-cars, horses, 
grouse moors, boxes at the theater, charitable bene- 
factions, platform seats, cards for the inclosure when 
royalty was present; he valued seats, seats in the 
House of Commons and in the House of Lords, seats 
on committees, seats on Borough Councils and 
Boards of Guardians; he would have liked a seat 
on the right hand of the Almighty, if purchasable, 
and, failing that, a private fauteuil in hell. He knew 
that he could drive only one motor-car at a time 
and eat only one dinner, but he was human enough 
to enjoy having more motor-cars than his neighbor, 
and giving him a better dinner than he could buy. 
For there was in him none of the good taste which 
gives dignity to the Jewish millionaire; he could 
rejoice in the possession of a unique Velasquez, but 
he stressed the unique and tended to overlook the 
Velasquez. He liked charity because he liked the 
sensation of power that lies in giving. And he liked 
to head subscriptions with a thousand guineas from 
the Daily Gazette, for he could enjoy even the splen- 
dor of a moral attitude; he had splendid simplicity. 
He was the type of rich man doomed to grow richer 

by the force of this simplicity. He could draw his 

210 



rrj 



% FULL SWING *$ 

wealth only from the enormous development of a 
single idea and from the atrophy of every other idea. 
Life was good; life was real. Sometimes he felt an 
emptiness; then he took a pencil and wondered 
whether he could not create another paper. 



Chapter VI 
Affairs 

BULMER was usually unaware of events in his 
house. So many people came there at so many 
times that he failed to observe them. He was like 
an actor-manager who ends by growing familiar with 
the people in the stalls on first nights, yet knows 
few of them. And so it did not surprise him that 
an entirely inept, youngish man, called Herbert Pad- 
bury, should fill rather often at lunch a space that 
might have been given to some one more eminent 
or more amusing. Padbury was either a dissipated 
thirty-three or a well-preserved forty-eight. Very 
tall, very thin, vaguely knock-kneed in excellent 
striped trousers, burned brown by the open air; 
pocketed under the eyes by drink and late nights, 
he suggested greed and degradation. When the men 
were left together his conversation was vile and his 
voice delightful. He was insolent and servile. He 
was the sort of person that any decent policeman 
would kick out of his front garden if he had any 
daughters in the house, but whom the same police- 
man would call "sir" when he found him drunk and 
clinging to a lamp-post. Padbury was the son of a 
rather impoverished Irish peer; he had been with- 
drawn from Eton and had taken a pass at Oxford 

212 






AFFAIRS *$ 



just in time — another three months would have got 
him sent down. After hanging about the clubs and 
losing a breach-of-promise case against a chorus-girl, 
he had somehow disgraced himself in a sinecure at 
Dublin Castle. He had gambled a bit at the clubs 
that liked his kind of play, touted for a motor-car 
firm, and then been sent in turn by an anxious 
family to Australia, Canada, and South Africa. He 
married in Canada, spending his wife's money, which 
was abundant, after which death released her from 
his company. 

In his later years Padbury became less irrespon- 
sible, but more dangerous. He came back to London, 
and extorted a small income from his brother when 
he succeeded to the title, and for a long time he had 
been outwardly respectable. He acquired Bulmer 
as he acquired people who might be useful, and Bul- 
mer rather liked him; he enjoyed Padbury 's un- 
pleasant references to people who were photographed 
on the back page of the Daily Gazette, but had not 
yet dined at Upper Brook Street. Bulmer did not 
notice anything until one Saturday afternoon, his 
holiday, he found him alone with Hettie, drinking 
tea. Then he forgot the incident. Then Hettie 
learned to ride, and rode so badly that she was 
noticed with Padbury in the Row. This was brought 
to Buhner's notice through snapshots of " People 
Seen in the Park." His attention having been 
drawn to the subject several times he at last began 
to realize what it might mean. He had heard of 
Padbury. He thought : 

"Oh, well, even if he didn't settle down. Course 
he wouldn't. Wonder whether I want a scandal 

213 



*» CALIBAN ]B 

in my family? Might damage me. Might advertise 
me. One never knows with scandals." 

So he did nothing. Padbury once made vague 
references to the cost of living in town, and said in 
general that he'd knocked about enough, and that 
if he could find a nice girl with, say, fifty thousand, 
he'd pull along with her. " Ain't enough really," he 
said. " Respectability's a luxury, eh what! Feller 
long ago said anybody could be virtuous on ten 
thousand a year. I dunno. May be easy to be 
virtuous on ten thousand a year, but it ain't neces- 
sary. If one's only got a thousand a year one's got 
to be respectable as a churchwarden. Other thing's 
too expensive." 

But nothing happened. One night, as he went to 
bed, Bulmer heard sobs, and went into Hettie's 
bedroom. She would say nothing, but a week later, 
in his society notes, Bulmer noticed the engagement 
of Padbury with Miss Daisy Hogstein, of Chicago. 
It was this no doubt increased the discomfort in the 
house. Hettie, whose affair was well known — thanks 
to Padbury 's conversation in the clubs and his refer- 
ences to the old goose with the golden eggs — acted 
at dinner-parties (with great enjoyment) the part 
of the bereaved widow who is trying to make the 
best of a blatant world. Eleanor, who was now 
forty-five, and better looking than ever, because she 
was still thinner and happened to have good bones, 
made Bulmer feel the angles of these bones. He 
found her very difficult. There had been trouble 
already about bridge on Sunday afternoons; bridge 
was just then becoming very popular, and bridge 
parties were being given with a hint that whist had 

214 



"8 AFFAIRS 



CQ3 



gone to Tooting. Bulmer had boomed bridge in the 
Gazette, and was not going to be without his bridge 
parties. 

"I'm not a prude," said Eleanor, "but I don't 
think cards ought to be played on Sundays. It 
doesn't look well." 

"Look well to who?" asked Bulmer. "In this 
part of the world one's neighbors don't care." 

"I'm not talking about the neighbors. Of course 
the neighbors wouldn't know. It isn't like tennis." 

"But, good Heavens!" said Bulmer, "supposing 
there was a tennis-lawn here, would you make a 
fuss? Does it hurt your feelings to have games on 
Sundays?" 

"Not at all," said Eleanor, calmly, "but it hurts 
other people's feelings. It shocks them. In the case 
of tennis, people who pass by don't like it. And if 
we play cards here on Sunday it wouldn't be good 
for the servants." 

Bulmer swore, and bridge parties were given on 
Sundays, for in the end he always broke Eleanor. 
But she annoyed him by appearing at one of the 
parties and loudly informing his guests at half past 
six that she was going to evening service. Also, 
there was trouble when he caught cold; Eleanor 
insisted on nursing him, and then refused him hot 
milk and brandy because all alcohol was bad. She 
knew that he was an average drinker at meals, but 
now that he was in bed and could not get out she 
found an opportunity for propaganda. So Bulmer 
rang the bell violently, and told his valet to bring 
him a bottle of whisky; he drank so much of it that 
he was sick. It was all this, no doubt, that pre- 

15 215 



*8 CALIBAN *8 

cipitated him into affairs with women. He was not 
beset by passionate preoccupations, and indeed had 
all his life felt very little the precise need of women. 
Apart from a few venal adventures and a romantic, 
but entirely platonic passion for a young woman 
who walked on in a musical comedy, he had known 
little of women before his marriage. He was entirely 
faithful to Vi. After she left him the emptiness of 
his emotional life, rather than desire, drove him to 
adventures which always he strove to make pro- 
found. In this he was not fortunate; he was too 
successful, too rich, to be entirely loved. He was 
thirty-five; so active, so intelligent, so domineering, 
that women were attracted to him, and that his 
difficulty was to choose rather than to discover. 
But the attraction was always a little unclean, for 
it was not Richard Bulmer they loved, but the pro- 
prietor of the Daily Gazette, the coming rival of Lord 
Northcliffe; or, worse, they wanted to be adver- 
tised, or to write in his papers, or to be seen in his 
company and that of the powerful. Now, Bulmer 
was not a man of fine perceptions, but he was not a 
fool, and so he was often unhappy when he discov- 
ered always behind the melting sweetness, the ardor, 
the ready wit, or even the slow grace that is all aloof- 
ness and innocence this aspiration to personal profit. 
His vague idealism disarmed him; whenever a re- 
lationship with a woman developed, he secretly told 
himself: "At last! She loves me. Really she loves 
me." He retained a vague vision of the woman who 
would really love him. He did not quite know what 
it would be like, but it would be wonderful, repose- 
ful, and stimulating. He would not want anything 

216 



"g AFFAIRS "g 

more than she gave him. He could trust her; she 
would be real. 

But women did not give him that. He fascinated 
them; his personality crushed them, and in the very 
fact of conquest they escaped him because they 
admired him too much to love him. They took him 
intellectually rather than emotionally. In the end 
they nearly always made him talk about himself or 
about his plans : they did not allow him, who so vio- 
lently wanted to, to love them. They wanted him to 
perform, to be a great man, strutting up and down 
in a closed room for their entertainment, and to tell 
themselves that vanquished Hercules span at their 
feet. And the temptation was too great for his 
vanity. He responded, did talk of himself and his 
plans. His ambitions, by expressing themselves in 
words, excluded the emotion he desired. Once even, 
at an assignation, he talked about his intentions for 
an hour, put on his hat, and went away, having for- 
gotten the rest of his errand. 

For a moment he thought he had found Her in 
Joan Belmont; only, he half cynically told himself, 
that he had thought the same thing in the case of 
Miss Kingsley and Lady Barford. Indeed, Miss 
Kingsley had been a fine adventure. She was a 
rather short, square girl, with too much red hair, 
with eyes too large and too green, a skin too white. 
She was a fairly successful actress, and she attracted 
Bulmer probably because she was sufficiently self- 
satisfied to think of herself rather more than of him. 
But Miss Kingsley was excessive. She had a mind 
to fit her impressive features. She was a burlesque 
of beauty, and their affair did not last very long. It 

217 



« CALIBAN H 

was always vaguely ridiculous; they speechified in 
turns, they caressed each other to the accompani- 
ment of stage whispers, while eyes drowned in stage 
tears were directed to an absent gallery. Bulmer 
soon grew tired of this private Drury Lane . . . but 
the scene of their parting was magnificent. 

Lady Barf or d was quite different. She was a 
very tall woman, whose husband took little notice 
of her because she bored him. As Barford sardoni- 
cally put it, "Polrv's a dear, but the trouble is she 
was twins; and her brother's got brains enough for 
two." It took Bulmer a long time to realize this, 
for Polly Barford was tall, had splendid dark eyes, a 
tragic mouth, and banded black hair. She looked 
like Medea, but the splendor of her features hid an 
entire absence of thought. Polly Barford observed 
nothing, understood nothing, remembered nothing. 
If she had been born poor the London County Coun- 
cil would have sent her to a school for defectives. 
She did not resist Buhner's advances; she had not 
even ideas about morals, and her reputation was 
excellent only because the average London rake was 
frightened off by her cool splendor. Still, she got 
on very well with Bulmer for several months. She 
listened to him, her great eyes wide open, and, when- 
ever he paused, said in a deep voice, " You're won- 
derful!" Then after a pause, " Wonderful!" 

Bulmer subsisted happily on this fare until he 
came to demand of Lady Barford something more 
than to be told he was wonderful. He wanted her 
to make him feel wonderful, but he could feel won- 
derful only if he felt sure that she loved him. Her 
admiration cloyed, and as he was not a man in whom 

218 



% AFFAIRS *g 

physical emotion blotted out every other demand, he 
found his interviews with Polly grow less frequent. 
He grew bored, and the interviews spaced out; she 
proved too lazy to make scenes about it. Once, 
when he had not seen her for three weeks, she gave 
him a beautiful smile, asked him whether he thought 
Russia would beat Japan, listened to the end with- 
out a sign of understanding him, and remarked that 
he was wonderful ! 

It was Joan Belmont broke off the relationship by 
interposing herself as a new interest. Joan Belmont 
was very small, very fair, and infinitely intelligent. 
She was perhaps too vivacious and too intellectual 
to give him the restfulness which he wanted after 
his hard labors, but, coming immediately after the 
immeasurable dullness of Lady Barford, she con- 
vinced Buhner that he was in love with her, that he 
would ruin himself for her, be divorced for her. 
For the first time he thought of getting rid of Vi, 
whom he had not seen for two years, and of whom 
he heard only now and then, when she wanted more 
money (for Vi, who had a large house at Finchley, 
had developed a taste for motoring, and was rather 
expensive). Joan was a painter, living in an upper 
flat in a decrepit house in Lawrence Street, where 
she practised exquisite Bohemianism with the as- 
sistance of Chelsea. She came to know Buhner 
through an interview in Ainsworth's room. Ains- 
worth had taken the place of Linton as periodicals 
manager, Linton's contract having been canceled in 
a fit of ill temper. (Incidentally, Buhner gave Lin- 
ton eighteen months' salary to cancel thirty months 
of contract, adding that he'd give him ten years' 

219 



f< g CALIBAN *$ 

salary rather than have him manage his papers 
another day.) 

Joan, who sold few pictures, partly because they 
were very bad, partly because they were rather 
modern, supplemented a small private income by 
black-and-white. When Buhner came in she had 
just sold Ainsworth a series of sketches touching on 
domestic life in the Black Country. Bulmer thought 
her charming, with her frizzy hair, her sparkling 
blue eyes, and the laughing dimples on each side 
of her ugly, intelligent mouth. He said, "I suppose 
you know the Black Country very well, Miss 
Belmont?" 

"Oh, no," said the girl, laughing, "I've never 
been farther north than Hendon. But of course I 
told Mr. Ainsworth I was born in Wolverhampton. 
Now he's bought my sketches he can't very well 
back out." 

Both men laughed at this audacity, and hearing 

that Miss Belmont painted in oils, Bulmer appointed 

to go and see her work at her studio. He found her 

very easy, very light. Joan Belmont looked upon 

love as a rag. All through their relation she felt it 

was a terrific rag that she, a little girl from the 

studios, who had run away from her family with 

forty pounds a year, and often lunched on bananas, 

should have captured this terrific person who could 

make a reputation and unmake it in a week. It was 

incongruous, and so it delighted her. Also, Bul- 

mer's quick intelligence leaped up to hers, and so, 

for a while, they burned in a common intellectual 

flame, sometimes so bright that they mistook it for 

love. Joan Belmont did Bulmer a great deal of 

220 



°$ AFFAIRS 






good, for she dragged him down from the pedestal 
upon which other women had placed him. She had 
no reverence, and once, when the car took them to 
Hertfordshire fields, she teased him all the after- 
noon, buried him in the hay, and filled his hair with 
burs. And she familiarized him with people from 
the studios, people he had never met before, and the 
like of which he had not suspected. But Joan irri- 
tated him while she pleased him, because she did 
not respect enough the influence of which he was 
proud. 

More than anything, in those days, Bulmer en- 
joyed his influence. It radiated in his office. He 
liked the feeling of stir that invaded the corner of 
Fleet Street when he went up-stairs. People flut- 
tered papers when he came in. As if fluid energy dis- 
turbed them. A certain air of "damn the conse- 
quences" hung about the sub-editors' room. He 
liked to be consulted, to have people come in with 
facts about Balfour, and neat paragraphs demon- 
strating in a hundred words that Protection was 
dead and damned. Whenever the telephone bell 
rang its voice was that of adventure. He liked to 
take slips from the commissionnaire when people 
wanted to see him, especially strangers; there might 
be something exciting in their unknown business. 
He took childish pleasure in ringing numerous bells 
and calling up the staff, to be lectured or encouraged; 
and he adored conferences with his editors; he en- 
joyed hearing their views, and crushing them under 
the impact of his own. He liked to throw out on 
this obedient assembly those Napoleonic phrases in 

221 



*g CALIBAN *g 

which he was specializing. He liked to think that 
they might be immortal. One, which combined 
Radicalism and the new idea of Woman Suffrage, 
was immortal ... for a few days. "Down with the 
lords and up with the ladies/' said the placard that 
united Campbell-Bannerman and Mrs. Fawcett. 
Another, a delicious one dealing with Chinese labor, 
represented twin comedians — Mr. Sam Mayo, sing- 
ing " Ching-chang, wing-wang," and Mr. Alfred 
Lyttelton, also in a dressing-gown, singing, "There 
is a golden Rand, far, far away." He was very 
happy, for he was still sure of himself. Joan Bel- 
mont and her Chelsea attitude of "art for art's 
sake" had not yet disturbed his serenity. 

He found her friends intolerable, their conversa- 
tion incomprehensible; the wilful exhorting of their 
principles, the symbolism of the poets, which sym- 
bolized nothing, irritated him. Their logomachies, 
their hatred of success, their worship of gods that 
they pulled down when these gods gathered too 
many worshipers, sickened him. And he was of- 
fended by their open contempt for Covent Garden 
opera, for the Academy, Hall Caine, for all things 
he respected because they were respectable. He felt 
hostile and detached, and Joan annoyed him. She 
had imported from Paris what she called the New 
Vision: this New Vision struck Bulmer as a new 
form of delirium tremens. For a time they main- 
tained their relation, though Bulmer suspected that 
she half joined the plot to make fun of his crudity, 
and yet to flatter him, to insult and to use him. 
There were moments of recovery, as when he fired 
the young Nietzscheans by saying that he'd rather 

222 



j£ AFFAIRS Jl 

be publicly hanged than privately canonized, but 
by degrees suspicion killed Joan's attraction; they 
guarded and sparred as they embraced. After a 
sharp quarrel they parted. He was not unhappy, 
but he was sore, his pride was touched; he had been 
laughed at; he had felt small among these small 
people. Though he despised them he could not help 
feeling that they thought him gross and obtuse. 
He was so angry that his daily criticism of the Daily 
Gazette cost him several members of his staff. His 
criticism was always sharp, and circulated on a slip 
bearing remarks such as, "Why were the Bishop of 
London's remarks on the rise of immorality dropped 
out of the second edition? The make-up is bad. It 
is no use advertising ladies' underclothes on the 
financial page. I can't make out what the picture 
of Dollie Johnson on the back page is. It looks like 
a gasometer; or Westminster Abbey by moonlight. 
Mem. Keep up the agitation against wood-pigeons." 

But that day he was very angry. One of the 
things that hurt him most was that Joan had 
sneered at Zip. 

"I don't see what you've got against Zip," he 
grumbled. "It brings in over ten thousand a year." 

She only laughed in an insolent way, and he 
was angry because he held as a superstition that Zip 
was his Napoleonic star. He relieved himself by 
discovering extreme feebleness in the campaign 
against the National Telephone Company; being a 
Liberal organ, the Daily Gazette was supporting the 
purchase of the company by the government, and so 
was vilifying it to persuade the public that the 
government should take it over. 

223 



H CALIBAN H 

" Disgraceful!" he shouted, as he ran into Swin- 
brook's room. " Who wrote this leader? Who shngs 
this pap at the pubhc? Pap! Catlap! The man 
who wrote this wouldn't lift the roof off a Baptist 
chapel. There's no guts in this, man." 

"I wrote it," said Swinbrook. 

"Then what the devil . . ." 

"That's enough," said the Scotchman, getting up, 
"you can have my resignation." 

"Oh," said Buhner, and paused, a little shaken. 
"All right. We need a change. This office is rotten, 
rotten to the core." 

"Well, sack the lot," said Swinbrook. 

Buhner did not quite do this, but he dismissed 
Ash, and in his stead put Benson, while Alford, 
formerly assistant editor, took the place of Swin- 
brook. Also, he sacked Ormesby for luck; he had 
always hated his dramatic chin. He felt better as 
he sat among the ruins, though still he thought 
revengefully of the Chelsea people, and of the little 
damage he could do them. If only they were popu- 
lar he could hit them. But what could he do to 
Chelsea loafers except refrain from advertising them? 
Fortunately he knew how to forget. 



Chapter VII 
Knight 

IT was about then that a maniacal strain began to 
develop in Buhner. Doubtless because he was 
emotionally empty, and because, as a drunkard, he 
discovered that the thing which depressed him could 
stimulate him, he formed a new paper when he 
could think of nothing else to do. Thus, within a 
single year, he added to his provincial list the 
Leeds Daily Gazette, the Norwich Daily Gazette, and 
the Nottingham Daily Gazette. He no longer asked 
himself whether papers paid: his morning paper 
was but a little over four years old, and not one of 
his publications was ten, but success had come so 
quickly, so unaccountably, that he thought in terms 
of power, and money followed. The narrow radius 
of his paper outraged him; in spite of special trains 
he could not get the Daily Gazette into Scotland until 
midday. And even when he printed it at Man- 
chester, as he soon did after laying down his private 
wires, even so the Daily Gazette was late for the 
Scottish breakfast. It was shameful to be late for 
breakfast! So, by degrees, his vision grew of a 
United Kingdom scarred in every town by a Daily 
Gazette office; he dreamed of Daily Gazettes in 
America, in the Argentine, in the British groups in 

225 



Tg CALIBAN Tg 

Europe, everywhere where English was spoken and 
where English ears might open to his words. He had 
no precise message, but he wanted to deliver himself. 
Once he said to Alford: 

"To think that there's an Englishman in Shanghai 
who doesn't say, 'I saw it in the Daily Gazette . . .,' 
it makes me ill." 

Alford smiled. He was a short man, with a square, 
bald head. He sometimes clashed with his chief 
because of his caution. Alford never hurried, was 
never surprised. Once, when a big fire, where many 
girls were burned alive, horrified London, Alford 
calmly telephoned Benson, the news editor, and told 
him to ascertain whether it was seventy-three or 
seventy-four girls. 

"The agencies' wires don't tally," he told Bulmer, 
who was smiling at his accuracy. "You may laugh, 
Boss," he added, "but there's only one rule in jour- 
nalism: check your facts; then check them again; 
then get somebody else to check them for you, for 
you may be wrong twice." 

Alford conducted the Daily Gazette on the best 
lines of the Civil Service, with this difference: he 
caused himself as well as his subordinates to be 
supervised. He proved incredibly valuable to Bul- 
mer in the days prior to the general election of 1906, 
because he was almost impossible to prove wrong. 
It was not that he had any scruples in lying, but he 
always saw to it that his facts were right and his 
conclusions wrong. The opposition newspapers 
could therefore only attack his reasoning, and as 
the public was entirely unable to understand either 
Alford's or the opposition's reasoning, the public, 

226 



*$ KNIGHT « 

who knew that a fact was a fact, invariably sided 
with him. It never occurred to them that a fact 
might convey an idea. 

Buhner's only difficulty with Alford was this 
solidity, and there was a long conference before the 
election, during which Alford blocked every catchy 
idea. It was just like first-class cricket. Alford's 
difficulty was his honest belief in Liberalism and its 
party. Buhner grew so angry at Alford's persis- 
tence in pushing forward the land question, the 
housing question, education, and temperance that 
at last he banged the table and roared: 

"I'll have no more of this. You've no gumption, 
any of you. Another word and I'll sack the lot of 
you and buy up the Morning Post staff. It's hope- 
less having men defending ideas they believe in. 
You all get carried away by your feelings about 
what's right and what's wrong. Right! I say rot! 
We've got to make a case that'll appeal to the man 
in the street, in the third-class railway carriage, who 
has his lunch at Lyons', or carries it about tied up 
in a red handkerchief. He doesn't want any of your 
damned housing or your damned education . . . and 
he'd rather go to hell than go back to the land. He 
doesn't want anything except to go on getting his 
wages, his beer, his girl, and eightpence to take her 
to the gallery at the local ' Empire' on a Saturday 
night." 

"But, Boss," said Benson, "we can't exactly 
boom those things, can we?" 

Buhner looked at him for a moment. He liked 
his news editor very much. Benson was a wiry 
little Scotchman. He had begun as an office-boy 

227 



*8? CALIBAN *» 

at fifteen in a weekly newspaper in Forfarshire. For 
the next twenty years he had lived about seventeen 
hours a day in newspaper offices. He had occupied 
every position, could write leaders on modern music 
or causeries on birds. 

"No," said Bulmer, "I know we can't, but . . .," 
he exploded, "what the hell do you want to boom 
anything for? Smash, that's the game. Don't you 
know your trade, any of you? Don't you know that 
what a man wants is to do another man down? Do 
him out of his rank, do him out of his language, do 
him out of his religion. Liberals? They're just 
anti-Tories. Conservatives? They're just anti- 
Rads. Men don't want things made. They want 
things smashed. Get it clear in your head : no man 
wants anything but another man's misfortune." 

Bulmer prevailed, not so much because he was the 
boss as because he converted his subordinates. His 
gospel inflamed them because he spoke it. He 
thought nothing that the most vulgar could not 
think, but he thought it with an intensity and 
brought it about with a will that gave it splendor. 
A tiger, perhaps, but one cannot laugh at a tiger. 
So he enjoyed enormously the campaign against the 
Conservatives, which traveled exclusively on two 
lines: down with tariffs! and down with Chinese 
labor! Chinese labor pleased him most because the 
compulsory celibacy of hundreds of thousands of 
coolies lent itself to suggestion. As Bulmer put it: 

"Show the public something that's immoral. 
They'll do it if it isn't found out, and vote against 
it if it is." 

So, day after day he printed half -columns of police- 

228 



*g KNIGHT ^ 

court reports from South Africa. It did not matter 
whether the case was white, black, or yellow, or 
whether it happened in Cape Town or on the Zambezi ; 
it always worked back to Chinese labor, and to a plea 
to vote against Lyttelton and his Tory associates. 
He followed this up by a series on slavery during the 
ages, above each of which he placed a cartoon of a 
Minister. He had one of Mr. Balfour, carelessly 
flogging a Chinaman with one hand, in the other 
holding a book on which was printed: "An open 
mind is an empty mind." There was also the Duke 
of Devonshire, snoring hard in a bed, the posts of 
which were spitted through the bodies of four writh- 
ing coolies. Buhner also captured Tom Groby, the 
Labor M.P., and gave him wide opportunities to 
terrify the voters with suggestions of coolies imported 
into England to lower wages. 

He would have been less happy with free trade, 
because here he must defend instead of attacking, 
if Joseph Chamberlain had not vaunted the happy 
industrial state of Germany. Buhner broadly ad- 
vertised the debatable news that Germans ate dogs. 
He thereupon printed a serious leaderette headed: 

THE DOG AS A FOOD 

(Recommended by Mr. Chamberlain) 

He caused leading doctors to be interviewed on 
this, and printed their horrified replies, pointing out 
that if the Unionist Government was put in again 
dog-steak would obviously fill the bill of fare. This 
even got into Jackie's Own Journal, and Mollie's 
Own Journal, and into Wee Winnie's Weekly, which 

229 



■g CALIBAN °£ 

had just been started by Miss Acton. Miss Acton 
bad much talent in this, and every week composed 
heartrending little stories about the wicked Unionist 
Government that would starve England into eating 
Fido if father didn't vote for the Liberals. Then 
Buhner, by duplicating his blocks, spread the attack 
to the provinces, and gave the public broadsides of 
fourteen cartoons, showing John Bull's bad dream 
after eating the Tariff Reform dinner, and such like. 
But his real triumph was the Joseph Chamberlain 
sausage, a horrible, gnarled, grayish object, of which 
millions were printed on cardboard and slipped into 
the issues of the Buhner publications. Buhner ex- 
hibited the sausage in his corner window, and soon 
there was a permanent little crowd staring at the 
ghastly thing, by the side of which lay, on black 
velvet, an exquisite, succulent, pink, varnished Libe- 
ral sausage. 

Still he extended his program: "Rob" and "Tip" 
produced with endless fertility cartoons showing 
peers scraping working-men off the earth with a 
muck rake, or working-men hatching eggs while the 
crafty landlord crept in and stole the chickens. 

"That's about it," said Buhner to Alford. "No 
damn building. Just go hitting 'em on those three 
places: landlords, tariffs, and Chinamen. And if it 
bleeds, hit again." 

Now, his staff troubled him little, for everybody 
believed in him. Some grew stale; thus the adver- 
tising manager was dismissed and replaced by Peni- 
stone, while Gedling, who was fainting after four 
years of foreign scandals, was replaced by Barby. 
The time had come, however, when Bulmer's staff 

230 



ji? KNIGHT *g 

mattered very little. He was indeed editor of his 
papers; his editors were only secretaries. Besides, 
his policy lay outside rather than inside Shoe Lane. 
There was, for instance, the case of the three-year- 
old that won the historic race. Buhner had bought 
him without disclosing his plans. His name was 
then Boscobel. Bulmer paid a heavy price for Bos- 
cobel, who during the spring won anything he liked 
on the flat. Some arrangements, the history of 
which is unknown, were made with the Jockey Club, 
and suddenly Boscobel began to run under the name 
of Free Trade. Nobody grasped the meaning of this, 
though the odds on Free Trade grew more and 
more favorable to the horse. It was only when in 
October Free Trade won the historic race that Alford 
understood. But he did not expect what happened 
at the end of December, just before the election, 
when Bulmer inserted in the Daily Gazette a picture 
of the horse, a list of its victories, and underneath: 

VOTE FOR FREE TRADE! 
HE'S SAFE FOR THE DERBY 

He was very happy because he was busy. He 
had less of a man's love of power than a boy's love 
of mischief. He did not want to remold the world, 
but he did want to make the government sit up. 

The election came and was won. A week after 
birthday honors he fingered new visiting-cards: Sir 
Richard Bulmer. He did not care much whether 
the servants now called him Sir Richard; he knew 
that the party which honored him hated him, and 
he delighted in this combination of hatred and 

16 231 



'S CALIBAN « 

honor; it was so much more flattering than honor 
and love. Besides, he had no time for his enemies. He 
was too uncomfortable in his new position as a sup- 
porter of the government; he had to defend the 
Education bill. As his ideas of defense were offense, 
his papers lost some of their virility. In his anger 
he dwelt too much on non-political topics. This 
meant that he developed unduly home interests and 
scandals. The opposition found it easy to charge 
him with vulgarity. Besides, his new social position 
puzzled him; he realized that he owed it dignity, 
and he could not pay his bill. He tried very hard, 
as, for instance, when he bought Bargo Court in 
Hertfordshire. A man of his position had to have a 
country seat, painful as it might be to move out of 
the two-mile radius from Charing Cross. Still, it 
had to be done, and Eleanor and Henrietta learned 
to wear tweeds, to talk horse, golf, and dog. 

Then Bulmer found that he must give week-end 
parties, which interfered with his desire to do his 
own reporting. He still did it, in a way. To one 
of these parties came Mr. Felton, a steady Liberal 
member, rewarded for his faithfulness by a private 
secretaryship to a Minister. He liked Felton because 
his worn spirit approached cynicism. Also, Bulmer 
had not yet exhausted the delight of showing off his 
possessions, and so he took Felton round, painstak- 
ingly exhibiting his house, his Gainsborough, his 
accumulation of Hertfordshire histories in costly 
bindings. He made Felton admire one of the thou- 
sands of cocked hats attributed to Napoleon. Bul- 
mer was unwearied in his pleasure, and he compelled 
the unfortunate man to examine nearly all the 

232 



°£ KNIGHT *g 

Chinese ivories, of which he had four hundred and 
eighty-two. 

But quietist pleasures did not satisfy him. On 
the Sunday morning he said to Felton, with a naive 
desire to impress him : 

"Now, Mr. Felton, I'm going to show you a bit of 
special reporting for the Daily Gazette. You've heard 
of the Hamilton case, haven't you?" 

"Oh, yes, that was yesterday, wasn't it? Wasn't 
Hamilton found in compromising circumstances in 
his own office? Awfully hard on a man with such a 
good reputation. Of course the girl's a rotter. Still, 
w T e don't know much about it. There are no details." 

"No. That's just what I'm going to find out." 

"Oh, how?" 
I'm going to ring up Hamilton and ask him." 
But, good Heavens!" cried Felton, "you surely 
don't think he'll talk?" 

Bulmer did not reply for a moment, but his blue 
eyes twinkled as they did always when he was about 
to say something Napoleonic. Then, slowly, he re- 
plied: "Oh, won't he? You have no idea, Mr. Felton, 
what unwise things a man will say when he is labor- 
ing under acute distress." 

Felton looked at him, horrified, and seeing his 
expression, Bulmer added: "Yes, I know. You 
think it a bit thick. But that's not our business, 
we newspaper men, whether it's a bit thick or not. 
News is news and the public must have it. It's the 
public's right, it's our duty. If I can get news I 
must get news. If there was something about me 
that might interest the public, I'd offer it to the 
public, even if it damaged me." 

233 



tc 

a 



« CALIBAN IS 

Felton stared at him, for Sir Richard Buhner 
stood with large, rapt eyes, as if exalted in some 
idolatry, as if he saw himself, a martyr to his trade, 
lighting with his own body a candle before the 
sacred shrine. 

"I say," said Felton at last, "but isn't it rather 
hitting below the belt?" 

"Always hit below the belt," said Buhner, in a 
low voice; "it's softer. Hit a man in the face if 
you can; hit him in the back if you must. There's 
nothing else to do. I am the public's master. I am 
the public's slave. I can only be its master by being 
its slave. Otherwise it won't let me live, and I say: 
Hail, Public! Those who are about to live salute 
thee!" 



Chapter VIII 
Baronet 

VI did not often disturb Buhner during the years 
of their separation. At first they corresponded 
a little — that is, Vi sent him long and rather ill- 
spelled letters, in which she vaguely complained of 
her health, of being dull, of the scarcity of servants; 
at the same time she equally vaguely conveyed that 
she was jolly glad to have got rid of him. And she 
always asked for money, not because she was ex- 
travagant, but because she was entirely incompe- 
tent when it came to spending more than five shill- 
ings. Vi had been poor too long, and knew exactly 
where to get handkerchiefs at three-three when most 
shops charged sixpence halfpenny. On the other 
hand, she could buy a bronze, decide to have it 
picked out in colors, and then, in a fit of temper, 
call in a dealer and sell it to him for two pounds ten. 
Her position in her big house at Finchley was rather 
desolate. She had been fool enough to settle in a 
suburb, not understanding that suburbs think con- 
jugal separations rather vicious, while Central Lon- 
don thinks them rather spicy. So she had been 
lonely for a time, until it struck her to contribute 
freely to the church. By degrees she bought herself 
into local committees for the employment of the 

235 



°S CALIBAN *» 

unemployables, and the rescue of women who had 
gone to the devil and were determined to stay with 
him. Also, as Buhner went up in the world, she 
relatively did so, too, and another kind of society 
formed round her; she was asked to join a local 
dancing club and given a seat on the committee of 
a bridge club. The resultant acquaintances were 
certainly amusing, and not very desirable. 

In five years she visited Upper Brook Street only 
once, and Bulmer twice called on her at Finchley. 
These were not emotional meetings. Indeed, their 
relation was puzzling; it did not amount to actual 
dislike of each other; they were to each other merely 
facts. Bulmer sometimes felt a little remorseful, but, 
after seeing her house, which was cerise pink except 
where it was pale blue, where everything was tied 
up with bows, where the drawing-room mantel- 
piece was covered with china dogs, Goss china, and 
photographs in silver frames, he concluded she 
was happy enough. He knew that she wanted more 
money, and, after refusing her an interview and 
receiving a curiously clear letter, in which she pointed 
out that if she liked to go to law she could get a third 
of his income out of him, he decided to call. 

He found Vi more truculent than usual, and quite 
unjustly decided she had grown ugly. She was 
that day wearing an afternoon dress of green silk, 
which did not set off her swarthiness. Also, she was 
in a bad temper, and her underlip hung heavy. Vi 
at thirty -nine was still a handsome woman, though 
rather heavy in the figure, for she still had fine eyes 
and a passionate, petulant mouth. It was not a 
very long interview. She began by abusing him and 

236 



<g BARONET °S 



asking whether he thought she liked being deserted 
by her husband, and the neighbors talking about her. 
And didn't he see what a position he'd placed her in? 
When Bulmer replied that she had left him of her 
own free will, she shed a few tears. These tears were 
so diplomatic that Bulmer grew suspicious, and said: 

"Well, you look all right on it. You've got 
plenty of friends, I suppose?" 

"What's the good of that?" asked Vi. "A 
woman in my position can't have friends. People 
talk if men come to the house." 

"Well, I suppose men do come to the house," said 
Bulmer. 

"I don't know what you mean," said Vi, looking 

away. 

For a moment Bulmer wondered whether he had 
fluked on some secret, but he was not interested 
enough to pursue the idea. 

"Look here," he said, "how much do you want? 
I give you two thousand a year as it is, and you're 
always asking for more. Let's make an end of 
this and have a proper deed of separation and a 
settlement." 

"You do put things coarsely, Dick," replied Vi. 
"Of course it costs money to entertain." 

"How much do you want?" 

"I could have a third of your income," said Vi, 
sullenly. 

"How much do you want?" asked Bulmer, loudly. 
"If it's reasonable you shall have it. If it isn't . . . 
well, you sha'n't. You won't answer? Look here, 
I'll settle three thousand a year on you for life, and 
if you don't like it, well, you can go to law." 

237 






CALIBAN « 



Vi did not reply for some time. A thousand a 
year rise was very nice. Only her new friend, the 
secretary of the bridge club, ex-bookmaker, still very 
smart in a dissipated way, had told her to stick out 
for four thousand. She was not exactly in love with 
him, but he dominated her, though she suspected 
him. She did not know him enough; in the last 
two months she had stayed with him in the country 
three times; sometimes, audaciously, she let him 
into the house when the servants had gone to bed. 
He had established over her an animal influence; 
he was not dear to her, but the loss of him would 
hurt her. What she really wanted was capital. 
Then perhaps they could marry if . . . 

"Dick," she said, "have you ever thought of 
letting me divorce you?" 

Buhner laughed. "Why should I let you divorce 
me? That's pretty cool. You want to drag me 
through the divorce court and make yourself out an 
injured innocent." 

"Well, you could get rid of me like that," said Vi. 
"Surely you don't expect me to be divorced after the 
way you've treated me? " 

"Look here," said Bulmer. "I'm not going to 

talk of divorce. I can't afford a scandal. I've only 

just been knighted, and I may ..." He stopped 

suddenly, as a man about to say something unwise. 

Vi reflected that it wasn't much use having capital 

if she couldn't get a divorce. Of course, she might 

have him watched. But it would be very difficult 

to catch a busy man. Also, her lover told her that 

the courts were very chancy. She might not get 

more than fifteen hundred pounds alimony. And 

238 



]B BARONET *g 

her lover had not asked her to get a divorce. Hurt 
and desirous, she wondered whether he wanted her 
to get a divorce. Anyhow, he aimed at four thou- 
sand a year, so, obediently, she said: 

"I don't want to quarrel, Dick. Make it four 
thousand a year. After all, you're making a lot of 
money." 

They argued for a little time. Then Buhner said : 

"Oh, damn it all, I'm wasting time with you. 
This interview's costing me hundreds. I'll give you 
three thousand five hundred a year. I don't grudge 
you four thousand a year, but I'm not going to be 
bullied and badgered like this. Three thousand five 
hundred a year, that's my last word." 

Vi accepted. She was a little afraid of him. And, 
after all, she daren't press much. Supposing it came 
out about her? So she said, "All right," and as she 
saw him out of the drawing-room, held up her face 
to be kissed. She did not hate him, and she thought 
this politic. He put a hand on her shoulder and 
kissed her indifferently on the cheek. He had noth- 
ing against her. Ten minutes later, as the car 
petarded down Haverstock Hill, he was thinking of 
more public affairs. And yet the idea of divorce 
hung in his mind. He even spoke to Eleanor in 
general. She objected very violently. "Divorce," 
she said, "lowered the morality of women." But 
she said nothing about the morality of men, presum- 
ably expecting nothing of them. Then the subject 
left his mind. He was very busy just then, booming 
the South African cricket team which, for the first 
time, was visiting England; and he had other cares, 
for now the whole of the Unionist press and, in a 

239 



**? CALIBAN *g 

sub-acid manner, the Liberal press, was attacking, 
sometimes his papers, sometimes his own personality. 
He rather liked that, and sent frequent letters to his 
provincial Gazettes, instructing them to avoid direct 
replies and to double the intensity of their particular 
campaigns. As for personal attacks, he took them 
half as insults, half as tributes. The first he cut out 
and carried for many days in his pocketbook. It 
seemed an unjustified attack. All that because he 
had declared that the government was weak-kneed 
and watery-eyed in its land policy, and that England 
wanted a Man. Then he found a Man in Mr. Hugh 
Thornton, a young and abusive Welsh Liberal mem- 
ber. For three weeks he ran Thornton in the most 
formidable style. Thornton's biography. Thorn- 
ton's South African medals. The attainments of 
Thornton's father, scientist and inventor. The seven 
Daily Gazettes and the Evening Gazette yelled to- 
gether, "We want Thornton." Deputations were 
organized locally and sent to the Prime Minister to 
demand Thornton. At last the Prime Minister said : 
"Oh, well, let them have Thornton. He won't do 
any harm," and made Thornton under-secretary of 
the department. 

Then something dreadful happened. Thornton 
had lunched with Bulmer several times and had 
been lectured for the major part of a week-end at 
Bargo Court. He seemed mild, and took down in 
a note-book everything that Bulmer said. Bulmer 
saw himself remolding the English land system. 
Every time he made a proposal Thornton said, "I 
quite agree." But the day after the young member 
was made under-secretary, and Bulmer asked him 

240 



T8 BARONET *g 

to dinner, Thornton replied that he was too busy. 
During the first three or four weeks things went 
pretty well, and Buhner had much to do with the 
drafting of the Land bill. But he realized that 
Thornton was giving way only on details, and that 
the principle of the bill was all Thornton with a 
touch of Prime Minister and no touch of Bulmer. 
There was a violent altercation, during which Bul- 
mer discovered that Thornton was entirely honest 
and incredibly obstinate. He retired angrily, and 
the next morning, in all the Daily Gazettes, appeared 
an article headed T. M. G. (Thornton Must Go). 
The machine was reversed. Thornton's former 
speeches were unearthed; portions were cut out so 
that his statements seemed inept. Because he had 
resigned from a mission society on conscientious 
grounds he was caricatured as the bigot of Llanpwll- 
gybi. The private life of his regrettable aunt was 
exposed; an extract from Mark Twain, where a 
man is made to shake turnips from a tree, was fas- 
tened to him as evidence of his fitness to control the 
land. 

And, because of this, just this, thought Bulmer, 
with a true sense of injury, a rival paper was calling 
him a vulgar boomster, saying that he enshrined 
the lowest traits of the stump orator and the cheap- 
jack. It actually said: 

" Sir Richard Buhner's method never varies. You 
get hold of a well-known man. You boost him; you 
make out that you alone know his worth; you cram 
his worth down the public's throat; 3 r ou terrorize 
the Cabinet. When you've got him in you try to 
boss him. If, by misfortune, your creature turns out 

241 



°% CALIBAN * 

to be straight, you cynically shout, for the world to 
hear, his incompetency, his nullity. You show how 
often he escaped jail. You search out his relatives, 
attack some because they are in the gutter, others 
because they possess presumably ill-gotten wealth. 
Chops and tomato sauce are the burden of Sir Rich- 
ard Buhner's pleas for the government of this coun- 
try. By chops and tomato sauce, as surely as Ser- 
geant Buzfuz, does he defend his promotions and 
unmake the mushroom reputations he raises in the 
humid cellars of Shoe Lane." 

"Yes," thought Bulmer, "I believe that paper 
doesn't like me." He was proud, but he was hurt, 
and so he was glad of the sycophants that surrounded 
him. They were very many, his flatterers. So many 
that Moss had to see them for him and make a pre- 
liminary clearance among the people who wanted to 
start Daily Gazettes in villages of two hundred in- 
habitants, or wished him to take up compulsory gas 
stoves, or had original methods for the suppression 
of sex. Sometimes the arts came to him, and here 
he was always seducible, for the old insults he had 
suffered in Chelsea in the days of Joan Belmont im- 
pelled him to show the arts that he was bigger than 
they, and could make them in a column. So now 
and then he took up a play, a picture, or a book, 
generally one that was rather poor and a little pre- 
tentious, above the heads of the public, yet not 
among the stars. Thus he made a success of "The 
Three Brothers," a somber play from Sweden; he 
made the public like Epstein for a while, and under 
his orders Rustington gave favorable reviews to books 
which made Rustington sick. But, in the main, 

242 



% BARONET *g 

Bulmer hated the Chelsea arts. They were so supe- 
rior. They never thought of circulation and sales 
. . . because they knew they couldn't get circulation 
or sales. So they pretended to be above it. He 
managed to impress this on a man who came to him 
and asked him to buy the Mauve Review. 

" What's the circulation?" asked Bulmer, chew- 
ing his cigar with a sulky air that he affected. 

"Oh, about two thousand. But of course you, Sir 
Richard, could raise it." 

"No good. To begin with, I never buy a paper. 
If it's good the owners don't want to sell. If it's 
bad I'd rather make a new paper and kill it." 

"But," said the envoy, with a shocked air, "surely, 
Sir Richard, you realize this isn't commerce, exactly. 
If you buy the Mauve Review you'll be in touch with 
all that is best in literature, in art, in modern 
thought." 

"Oh, yes," said Bulmer, "with all the people who 
don't matter." 

"Don't matter!" 

"No. Nothing matters unless there's enough of 
it. Your greenery-yallery crowd, your art for life's 
sake, or your art for art's sake, and your verses that 
don't rhyme, and your pictures of impressions while 
having a tooth out, what do you think you're up to? 
Blasted lot of water spiders jiggling about while the 
stream flows on." 

"We do not always fail," said the envoy, as if 
seizing an advantage. "The Yellow Book ran for 
four years." 

Bulmer laughed. "Give me the yellow press 
rather than the yellow book," he said. 

243 



°g CALIBAN % 

He was really too busy for these people. He was 
taking, too, a strong interest in the developments of 
the day, notably in wireless. His offer of a five- 
thousand-pound prize to the first man who sent a 
wireless message to America and got it recorded 
there probably hastened developments, for now 
regular marconigrams were passing between Conne- 
mara and Glace Bay. Everything that touched 
America interested him; he did not care about Mars 
nor about Richmond. One was too far and one 
couldn't get there; the other was too near and one 
got there too easily. America was beautifully diffi- 
cult enough. It was this liking for America which 
led him to agitate for the Anglo-American penny- 
post. The agitation was not quite sincere, for he 
discovered that the government had practically de- 
cided to establish it, so he promptly started the 
campaign in favor of the penny post, and when in 
due course the government executed its previous 
plan he was able to announce in all the Gazettes: 

WE GOT THE PENNY POST TO AMERICA 

His activities touched all that moves and nothing 
that is. He gave a terrific boom to Arnaud Massey 
when the Frenchman won the International Golf 
Championship, and, as if predestined, traveled in 
the first car when the subway was opened between 
the Embankment and the Strand. And still he pro- 
liferated. Having met Ratcliffe, a society man, at 
lunch, he put him in charge of a smart weekly called 
Tittle Tattle; then, wanting to spread his inter- 
ests, he brought down from Nottinghamshire an ex- 

244 



**? BARONET *$ 

international footballer called Annesley, to whom 
he added, for cricket, his old school-fellow, Selby. 
Selby, having married successfully, did no work, 
and was brought to Bulmer by Tarland, who still 
refused to write nippy notes on engineering. These 
recruits produced sporting weeklies called The Wicket 
and The Goalpost, and soon invaded the local athletic 
clubs. 

Bulmer was sentenced by this activity, not only 
because life rewarded him, but because it was the 
only thing to do. Like Napoleon, he could subsist 
only by victory. And, like Napoleon, he had to 
demand its fruits. Thus he had to hint to the gov- 
ernment that knighthood was no longer a dignified 
position, and that if dukes were three a penny 
knights must be very cheap. So he was made a 
baronet, and the addition of the word "Bart." on 
his morning mail gave him certain satisfaction. 
But, indeed, private life hardly existed for him; 
Hettie was becoming more lachrymose as the dis- 
turbances of spinsterhood grew more desperate, and 
she quarreled with Eleanor, who grew more acid 
with time. There was a big quarrel, lasting several 
days, because Hettie had herself photographed and 
paid eight guineas a dozen. Eleanor called this 
shocking extravagance, but could not say what the 
money ought to have been spent on. She repeated 
with maddening monotony, "You ought to have 
bought something useful." When, in defense, Hen- 
rietta pointed out that the photographs would make 
Christmas presents at fourteen shillings each, Eleanor 
grew confused, for she could not pretend that Christ- 
mas presents ought to cost less. But she remained 

245 



jg CALIBAN *K 

angry, for Eleanor did not appreciate the thing she 
liked; she appreciated only the things which are 
publicly recognized as likable or valuable. There 
was a good deal of Bulmer in her. She had preju- 
dices, too, like him, but as they were not the same 
they irritated him. They had a quarrel because all 
through October she refused to wear furs, declaring 
this to be weak-minded. When she told him, on 
the 20th of October, that she wished it were No- 
vember 1st, because then she could wear furs, he 
flung himself into such a fury that for two even- 
ings Eleanor dined out. 

And time went on. Now he was thirty-eight, then 
thirty-nine. He was like a man in a motor-car when 
the brakes go wrong; able to pull up only if he meets 
a hill. In this new hysteria he was interesting to 
the people he met, and at Shoe Lane he was discussed 
more than any employer by his staff. Rustington, 
notably, liked to talk of him to Alford. Rustington 
was a Canadian, had been a schoolmaster. Now he 
was literary editor of the Daily Gazette, and, as he 
had some money of his own, could afford to indulge 
in good taste. He also indulged in psychology, and 
had watched and analyzed Bulmer many years before 
he joined his staff. 

" You know, Alford," he said once, "the Boss is a 
marvelous man. He's got no brain. He's not clever. 
He's got no common sense. He never thinks . . . 
but he never thinks twice, and that's the making of 
him. He's just one great big desire; as most men 
can't conceive desire, he gets his way." 

"Oh, that's all bunkum," said Alford. "Not 
clever! Why, there's nobody in the country knows 

246 " 



* BARONET *g 



what the public wants like him. Northcliffe's not 
in it. Hulton's not in it. As for Bottomley and his 
big drum! You put your money on Buhner, and you 
won't be far wrong. He knows what the public 
wants. " 

"He did ten years ago, when he made Zip, but he 
doesn't now. His mind is the middle-class maximum, 
and it never evolves. He hasn't even the sense to be 
consistent in his policy. Well, of course, only a 
damn fool is consistent, and the Boss was quite 
right when he said to me the other day, 'Times change 
and views must change with them/ but what's the 
good of that? The public likes a man to be con- 
sistent, gives 'em something to hold on to." 

"But I thought you said his mind never evolved!" 
cried Alford. "Now you blame him for being con- 
sistent." 

"That's just it. The mind behind is always the 
same, but the policy of to-day clashes with that of 
yesterday. He thinks he leads because he follows. 
There is no Buhner. Do you know his favorite book? 
It's Under Two Flags. His favorite picture? It's 
'The Doctor.' Talk of the middle-class maximum! 
That's the secret of his success. Half England is 
middle class; the Boss's readers are all alike from 
Westbourne Grove to Buckingham Palace. And the 
rest are trying to be like 'em." 

Alford smiled. "Well, never mind how he does it. 
He's a success." 

"Yes, the world's given him wheels. That's the 
test, Alford, wheels. When a man's got his motor- 
car you know the populace has granted him the 
garter." 
17 247 



•g CALIBAN « 

There were many such conversations in the office, 
though the Rustingtons, analytical and interested, 
were few. Bulmer attracted mainly two kinds of 
men — the American showman type, and the young 
romantic who believed in him as his marshals did 
in Napoleon. They stayed with him as long as they 
could, and he made few changes on his editorial side : 
there was no reason to dismiss those men; they were 
only dictaphones into which, every day, he spouted 
his policy. It was the special writers went quickly; 
as soon as he had emptied them of their freshness 
and their ideas. But of those who stayed, some grew 
subject to him as women to a masterful lover; others 
hated him because he absorbed their individuality 
as the rhizopod surrounds its food; they hated him 
because he paid them so well that they could not 
get free : these grew cynical, took to reading Punchy 
to morphia, to golf, to anything to convert life into 
a jolly lie. Others despised him because his mind 
was crude; those respected him much more than 
they despised him, because they had no will, and like 
snapping dogs were flattered by his casual caresses. 
All of them felt some love for him, because he was 
young and naive. They liked the way in which he 
said, "I know." Or again: "If I like, to-morrow the 
government will do this. I only have to speak the 
word." And they did not mind his talking big 
about the best hotels, the right makes of cars, and 
contradicting on inside knowledge. He was a master, 
often an unjust master, and so his justice took upon 
itself the guise of mercy, and his favor made privilege. 



Chapter IX 
Peer 

THE election of January, 1910, gave a new direc- 
tion to Buhner's misty desires. Until then he 
had been political in so far as a newspaper proprietor 
must be so. And he had been a Liberal because he 
disliked those who were established and hated the 
inert. But he had not thrown all his energy into 
the political side, partly because the Bulmer of the 
Daily Gazette was still very much the Bulmer of Zip, 
and maintained an undying interest in questions 
such as, " Should girls wear socks?' ' His diver- 
sions were still the diversions of the people whom he 
served, and, like them, politics resolved themselves 
rather into a struggle where you backed blue against 
red without quite knowing why, and shouted, "Go 
it, little 'un!" The dignity of Parliament irritated 
him; he would have been happier in elections con- 
ducted as at Eatanswill. 

But, having been compelled to take up a political 
cause, he had done so with his natural virulence, 
and inside ten years had established power. The 
opposition hated him, but half hoped to win him; 
his own party flattered him and was unsure of him. 
But the rank and file loved him because he was no 
more political than they, and understood that while 

249 



« CALIBAN l£ 

they wanted some reason to go on voting Liberal, 
they really preferred pictures of royal weddings, and 
paragraphs about people. As a result of this he re- 
ceived two invitations to contest a seat, one hope- 
less, the other in Cornwall, and quite promising. He 
hesitated for a long time over the Cornish seat. Sir 
Richard Buhner, M.P.! That would be nice. He 
saw himself making speeches, bringing down the 
government. Might do something startling, too: 
what about fancy waistcoats, like Disraeli? But an 
instinct held him back. M.P., yes, very nice. Still, 
one would be worried. One would get whips telling 
you you had to attend, and telling you how to vote. 
Of course he could do as he liked, but ... he told 
himself that it would be a nuisance; what he did 
not tell himself was that he must start low in politics 
and make his way. He realized that obscure people, 
like the Junior Whip, various twopenny lawyers, 
would have power to interfere with him, just because 
they'd been ten years in the House. He struggled 
very hard; he even consulted Alford and Tarland. 
He believed in Tarland because the engineer's aloof- 
ness from notoriety impressed him. He wanted Al- 
ford and Tarland to support him in a probably un- 
wise course. He knew it would be ridiculous to 
take a referendum of his readers on the question, 
bat he would have liked to do so. Finally he 
refused. 

But the incident did not leave him unaffected. 
At bottom he resented the condition which had 
prevented him from taking something that he did 
not really want. So, having decided not to become 
a politician, he grew violently political. He devel- 

250 



% PEER « 

oped for Mr. Lloyd George a taste, half reverent, 
half antagonistic, and when the House of Lords 
threw out the Budget and challenged the power of 
the House of Commons, Buhner flung himself into 
the combat with extraordinary enthusiasm. He 
ceased to take any interest at all in his periodicals, 
except Zip, because that was his baby and his mas- 
cot. He surprised Alford and Benson by cutting out 
at the last moment articles on the best creepers with 
which to garnish suburban pillars, and replacing 
them by abundant Lobby Notes. The Gazettes 
turned more and more into violent party papers, 
and, almost immediately after the challenge, all 
came out with a plain demand for the abolition of 
the House of Lords. For the excess of one is the 
normality of another, and Buhner had not been 
able to resist overbidding the Daily News and the 
Daily Chronicle. He had to soar above their timid 
proposals for the control of aristocrats. For six 
months he waged an extraordinary campaign. Day 
after day he published fragments of "Our Old 
Nobility," placing in the stocks of public opinion 
one titled family after another. It was a flaming, 
raging exposure; he advertised the thefts and bar- 
barities by means of which the original earl had 
acquired his land; or he told at length the history of 
the king's mistress, who originally earned this barony 
and that dukedom. Tiring of this after a while, he 
turned to the moderns, began reprinting reports of 
old divorces and breach-of-promise cases, in which 
had figured living peers. Members of noble families, 
who had emigrated for unpleasant reasons, were dis- 
covered by young specialists whom he employed. 

251 



*£ CALIBAN *g 

He fought two libel actions, won one and lost the 
other, but in both cases printed the report in full, 
so that nobody might miss the charge made against 
him and the charges he made. Indeed, the second 
case, where he lost heavily, provided a splendid 
advertisement, for all the Gazettes came out with 
this placard: 

£20,000 DAMAGES 
AGAINST BULMER 



In the same issue they took up another noble vic- 
tim, handling him yet more severely, adding as a 
footnote, "This may cost us £20,000, but by Jove, 
it's worth it!" 

It was a lonely struggle, for his staff lacked his 
taste for excess. Most of them were journalists of 
long training, and they were accustomed to exposure 
and attacks, but they were not used to going on with 
them. Their idea was to snap at somebody as they 
ran past him, like a bad-tempered collie, and then 
go on to something else. They were recording in- 
struments, and felt no sympathy with persistent 
campaigns. And the government had a way of 
conveying to him that they were very much obliged, 
of course, but they did wish he'd do it differently. 
They were rather frightened of him. Indeed, in 
1910, the Liberal Government found the situation 
awkward. They had not gone in their reforming 
program as far as they wanted; they had antago- 
nized Labor by their moderation, and yet they had 
been forced by the House of Lords into a conflict 
which they did not want and for which they had no 

252 



*$ PEER ]B 

stomach. They wanted to preserve the House of 
Lords, because they felt that it would always pro- 
tect them against having to keep their pledges. 
When, one day, Bulmer guessed this, and said 
that Mr. Asquith was like a little commercial 
traveler who, in a tap-room, challenged a navvy, 
and was pushed out into the back yard by an 
enthusiastic crowd who wanted to see the fight, 
he was making a statement of fact devoid neither 
of drama nor of verisimilitude. Bulmer had a 
few interviews with the usual go-betweens, who 
tried to teach him dignity. He proved very 
difficult. 

"Look here," he said to an under-secret ary, "do 
you want the job done or don't you?" 

The under-secretary explained that they did want 
the House of Lords curbed, and that also they 
didn't. Of course they wanted the job done, but 
they didn't want the job done. Couldn't Sir Rich- 
ard appreciate the difference? 

But Bulmer was not yet political enough, and, 
sending all under-secretaries to the devil, proceeded 
to discover, first in Mr. Lloyd George and then in 
Mr. Churchill, the man who could save the country. 
Mr. Lloyd George lasted nine weeks, and Mr. 
Churchill four days, at the end of which Bulmer, 
perceiving no more men fit to save the country, lost 
the capacity for understandable speech and had to 
break out into cartoons. A very satisfying one, in 
December, was the House of Lords' Football 
Match, first fifteen vs. second, in which the House of 
Commons figured as the football. On election 
morning the Daily Gazette came out in sixteen pages 

253 



°$ CALIBAN *« 

instead of ten, each one of the six new pages being 
solely occupied by the words: 

VOTE FOR THE LIBERALS! 
DOWN WITH THE HOUSE OF LORDS! 

The victory was won, but narrowly. The Liberal 
administration, with a majority of forty — a majority 
founded on the quicksands of the Irish vote — felt the 
need for all the support it could get. After all, Bul- 
mer had worked very hard for them. . . . 

"A peerage!" thought Bulmer, without any cyni- 
cism. He told himself, "Fm a lord." A song in 
"The Earl and the Girl," that Weedon Grossmith 
used to sing, passed through his mind: 

I've a mansion in Park Lane and several country houses, 
I'm a lord, I'm a lord. 

What should he call himself? Bargo? After 
Bargo Court, of course. Lord Bargo? No, Bargo 
wouldn't do. That'd been Ellie's idea, because if 
he called himself Lord Bargo she wouldn't have to 
change the initials on the linen. No, people would 
write verses about him if he did that, and make his 
name rhyme with cargo. Pity he couldn't call him- 
self Hertfordshire, but he supposed they wouldn't 
let him, since there was already a Marquis of Hert- 
ford. It worried him, and he went through the 
gazetteer to find a pleasant name. He didn't think 
Northcliffe had chosen well. Nothing like so good 
as Harmsworth. Then he whistled. Why lose his 
name? Why turn himself into a geographical ex- 

254 



*8 PEER *8 

pression? Hang it all! the name of Buhner was a 
property, like the name of Heinz, the baked beans 
man. 

'Til be Lord Buhner," he thought, "Lord Bulmer 
of Bargo Court, and damn the College of Heralds 
and the Record Office." 

The opposition was overjoyed. They printed as 
a parallel one of his articles of a year before, and his 
Letters Patent. A Liberal weekly paragraphed him 
under the title of "Coronets for One," suggesting 
that he thought his head the only one worth . . . 
presumably strawberry leaves by and by. 

"I say," said Alford, "do you think we ought to 
do anything about this, sir?" 

"Nothing at all. Don't advertise them, and for 
God's sake don't call me sir, even if it is in the book 
of etiquette. What in hell do you think I care for 
a peerage? All it means is that I can't be had up 
by a court of law, and can only be tried by my 
peers. Nice privilege; they'd hang me for twopence 
after what I've said about 'em." 

He really did enjoy it very much, and for some 
time wrote letters instead of telephoning, so as to 
sign "Bulmer" and not Richard Bulmer. Life was 
good in those days. Things happened. One day 
it was the opening of the London Opera House, and 
a chance for a great prize competition to discover a 
British musical genius (and acquire the copyright of 
his compositions for free distribution as an adver- 
tisement). Or it was the Insurance Act, and day by 
day putting ginger into Masterman, and making the 
government hop. He still made the government 
hop; they had thought to seduce him with a peerage, 

255 



H CALIBAN *8 

but they did not succeed. If Bulmer had lived in 
ancient Athens and they had put an ox upon his 
tongue, he still would have talked. 

The people most impressed were Hettie and 
Eleanor. Hettie was impressed because she thought 
it wonderful to have a titled relative. She was still 
ridiculous; she still wrangled with Eleanor, and she 
figured at receptions with a majesty that concealed 
fear. As for Eleanor, she still counted his collars 
when they came back from the wash, and grumbled 
at the coal bill, but at last she reluctantly acknowl- 
edged that Dick had succeeded. She had backed 
her mother in the latter's anger and shame when 
Bulmer abandoned a safe job in the City for the 
uncertainties of Zip, but now she grudgingly realized 
not only that he had made a great deal of money, 
but also that he seemed safe. People who weren't 
safe didn't get peerages. And she became almost 
affectionate when a disagreeable little weekly, under 
the title of Things We Want to Know, asked, 
"Whether Lord Bulmer is a hundred thousand 
pounds poorer now he's a lord?" 

Bulmer did not mind. It didn't matter; if they 
thought he'd got his title for nothing, then they 
must think he had got there. If they thought he had 
bought it then they must think him very rich, which 
meant that he had got there in another way. He 
knew whether he'd paid for it or not, and the rest 
was nobody's business. But, anyhow, even if he 
had paid, the Daily Gazettes would all the same 
attack the sale of honors. 

For some months people called him the Weather- 
cock. He did not mind; the world was too interest- 

256 



IS PEER °g 

ing. Had not the South Africans come over to meet 
the Australians? Had not T. J. Matthews done the 
hat trick twice in one day? And had not the Titanic 
provided, together with an exciting wreck, a splendid 
agitation in favor of life-belts for all, and a chance 
to offer an exciting prize for the best life-saving ap- 
paratus, to be shown at the special Daily Gazette Ex- 
hibition at the White City? He liked being a lord. 
One couldn't be ignored. One could only be adver- 
tised by hatred. But he realized in himself a new 
dignity. Yes, he'd attacked the House of Lords, 
he'd cried for its abolition. But it hadn't been 
abolished; was that his fault? He was a member 
of the House of Lords; he hadn't sought admission. 
If he was a member of it he could no longer submit 
to its being extinguished, and he could not allow it 
to be inferior or ignoble. Without any warning the 
Daily Gazette took up the gilded chamber, and opened 
a competition for the best essays on the reform of the 
House of Lords, such essays not to exceed half a 
column and to have a paragraph every five lines. 
Bulmer had an honest vision of this new toy. A few 
sittings convinced him that there was in the House of 
Lords a sort of solid good will. He dreamed of ex- 
cluding the backwoodsmen, who only came up to 
interfere. His taste for the colonies and for commer- 
cial success led him to prepare a scheme where most 
of the hereditary peers were excluded, where the 
humanized localities from the wilds of Shropshire 
were replaced by leading lawyers, chairmen of banks 
and of railway companies, representatives of the free 
churches, and, to show his liberalism, secretaries of 
trade-unions. 

257 



]8 CALIBAN *g 

LORD HELP THE HOUSE OF LORDS 

shouted all the Daily Gazettes, And the Evening 
Gazette, and Zip, and The Talebearer, and Mollie's 
Own Journal, and Jackie 1 s Own Journal, and TFee 
Winnie's Weekly, all piped in their childish treble 
Buhner's dream of reform. 



Chapter X 
At Bar go Court 

POOR old thing," said Mrs. Felton, "you look 
tired." She nodded toward the little Vernis 
Martin table. "You shall have your tea as soon as 
I can boil the kettle." Mr. Felton watched his wife 
for a moment as she knelt by the gas stove, equil- 
ibrating a copper kettle on the whispering flame. 
Lying in a comfortable arm-chair, his slippered feet 
toward the stove, he felt at rest. About him the 
small service flat was pleasant, with its white walls, 
its mahogany tables, upon which stood a very few 
Lowestoft bowls. He looked at himself and his little 
world, made yet smaller by the convex mirror that 
reduced the room to a photograph of a stage scene. 
The Feltons were poor in the way that the well-to- 
do are poor. Besides his salary as a member they 
had four hundred a year of their own. They lived 
in this flat of three rooms, eating contentedly the 
sort of meals the restaurants of service flats provide, 
dining out a little, dining people a little, going to 
Ranelagh when somebody gave them a voucher, 
and on Sundays to the Zoo when a fellow offered 
them a ticket. They had no children. They had 
been married twenty-five years, and still managed 
to be fond of each other, though once they had been 

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•8 CALIBAN ]8 

much in love. Mr. Felton attended regularly at 
the House, and sat on many committees, where he 
did his best, which was quite good of its kind, but 
not inspired. Mrs. Felton collected Lowestoft china 
and took an interest in female orphans that had 
lost both parents. Both liked to dress in gray, and 
both well enough, yet not too well. After a moment 
Mr. Felton said: 

"You don't know how good it is to see you doing 
that, Maisie." 

She smiled up at him, pleased. 

" After Bargo Court, I mean. One couldn't boil 
a kettle at Bargo Court. One would telephone to 
the housekeeper's room, who, presumably, would 
send a requisition to the butler, who would notify 
the cook, who would direct some underling beyond 
the conception of my poverty. Like getting some- 
thing done in a government office, but quicker. 
Then, from among nine different kinds of tea, Lord 
Buhner's favorite brand would be selected; a test 
would be made by an expert, with water imported 
from Pekin. The teapot would be scalded, and its 
temperature taken with a clinical thermometer. 
Meanwhile the water would be boiling for a period 
controlled by a chronometer checked at Greenwich. 
There would be an expert in pouring, to fill the tea- 
pot; and the brew would not be spoiled by waiting 
overlong between kitchen and drawing-room, for 
the time employed in transit would have been cal- 
culated by a pedometer. Finally the tea would 
arrive, and the presiding lady would say, 'Milk and 
sugar?' just like that. 'Milk and sugar?' as if 
nothing dramatic had happened. " 

260 



*8? AT BARGO COURT *8 

"Don't be silly," said Mrs. Felton, laughing. Her 
mild, ironic, old husband, who hated nothing, but 
who observed and analyzed much more than Bulmer 
suspected, still amused her. But she was very femi- 
nine and knew exactly what she wanted to know. 
So she said: 

"Who was there?" 

"Not a large party. Mr. and Mrs. Alford, and 
Sir Thomas Eggington and his wife, and R. J. Camp- 
bell. And there was Miss Bulmer, you know, the 
one who looks as if she'd swallowed a poker and it'd 
got stuck sideways. It's an experience, meeting 
Campbell; spirituality radiates from his eyes, 
brotherhood from his hair. He's very beautiful in 
a way. I sometimes think when I meet a fashion- 
able preacher ..." 

"I hear Lady Eggington's very pretty," said Mrs. 
Felton. "What did she wear at dinner?" 

"Sorry, old girl, I didn't notice. But she is 
pretty." 

"Of course you'd notice that, you old devil. But 
you didn't notice her frock. What's the good of 
you? I suppose you didn't notice Mrs. Alford's 
frock either? Oh, why didn't I go?" 

"You were asked." 

"Is it my fault," cried Mrs. Felton, aggravated, 
"that I thought I was going to have 'flu,' and made 
you go alone because it might be useful?" 

"Well, next time I promise you, I'll look out. 
But, you know, you'll come with me that time, and 
you won't be noticing frocks either. You'll just sit 
down and notice nothing but Bargo Court and Bul- 
mer. When you're with Bulmer you don't notice 

261 



« CALIBAN j£ 

other people and other things any more than you 
notice electric light when the sun's shining. The 
house! The house is enough to keep you busy. 
You start in the car that brings you from the sta- 
tion; the size of it! You roll about in it. Plate- 
glass windows! carriage clock! telephone to the 
driver! Indicator! right, left, stop, slow, fast. 
There's no switch for 'I've lost my hat!' Little 
library! Map of Hertfordshire, map of England, 
map of heaven, probably. Cigarettes, cigars. 
Liqueurs under the seat, probably, but I didn't look. 
That goes on inside the house. And on. Makes 
one feel disrespectful to get into the rock-crystal 
bath and turn the silver taps. Towels come up in 
the service lift, baked to the temperature of summer 
heat. I tell you, old girl, my bedroom gave me the 
jumps. I had to find my way through eleven 
switches to get the light where I wanted it. On the 
dressing-tables, scent bottles fit to stock a beauty 
specialist. Telephone practically in the bed. Sec- 
retaire simply chipping with note-paper of every 
conceivable size. Biscuits and soda by the bed. 
And something like five hundred volumes in the 
bookcase. Evidently Bulmer's one of the people 
who buy novels. There was so much W. J. Locke 
that I had to rush to the biscuits and soda. Culture, 
of course; also a touch of Shaw (unopened), The 
Crock of Gold (uncut)." 

"Poor boy," said Mrs. Felton, sympathetically, 
"wasn't there anywhere you could get away from 
it?" 

"Hardly. There wasn't a table without a Brad- 
shaw (bound in calf), a Whitaker ditto, and The 

262 



*8 AT BARGO COURT *8? 

Red Book, and 77ie i?^e Book, and Burke, and 
Debrett, and Dod. I expect Crockford was some- 
where about the place. I hid in the library on 
Sunday morning. There's a grand place behind the 
county histories; they could have hidden Charles I 
there from thousands of Roundheads. The Parlia- 
ment could never have got past the dictionaries, the 
encyclopedias, the treatises on hunting, shooting, 
fishing, the Kiplings, and the Paters, and the Fitz- 
geralds; all the histories of all the Englands, and 
Mrs. Aria on costume, and Tomkins on furniture, 
and the inventory of the National Gallery, and the 
Hundred Worst Pictures." 

"Did you get on with the people?" asked Mrs. 
Felton. 

"Do you know, I didn't have much to do with 
them and they didn't have much to do with each 
other. Nobody wanted to. Everybody wanted to 
talk to Bulmer. I don't think Mrs. Alford said 
anything but 'Yes, my lord,' or 'No, my lord,' 
except when she said, 'Oh, my lord.' Poor dear, 
I'm sure Alford rowed her for calling him 'my lord,' 
but she did love doing it. Oh, I can feel the white 
woolly mat that lies under the cork mat in the bath- 
room, and the soul of Morny rise from the varieties 
of bath salts." 

Mrs. Felton laughed. "Anyhow, you seem to 
have done yourself well. I suppose Lord Bulmer 
makes it his chief occupation to do himself well?" 

"No, I don't think so. I think he does these 
things en bloc. Gets a specialist down from Coun- 
try Life, and tells him to turn him out a modern 
but stately home of England, and then thinks of 

18 263 



jB CALIBAN ^^^ *$ 

something else. He's awfully decent. He's not only 
got a convalescent home for his staff a couple of 
miles off, but the morning I was there he was writing 
one of them a little note. The office notifies him 
when anybody's sick, and he sends whatever's suit- 
able. When they're getting better, his secretary- 
sees to it that he writes them a few nice words. 
And when he hears something's happened in one of 
their families, a death or something, he sends them 
all to the seaside, or lends them a car and a chauf- 
feur for a few days. And as he gets hundreds of 
newspapers, they're cleared out every night and sent 
to the hospitals while they're fresh." 

"He must be a nice man," said Mrs. Felton. 

"He is. He's always doing something for people, 
especially if they're in revolt against their families. 
That must have something to do with his own past. 
He's got all sorts of young men in the colonies and 
in America, for whose training he's paying. He 
actually told me that no young man or no young 
woman has done any good until they've broken 
their mother's heart by following their own fancy 
and then mended it by succeeding in their career. 
He's got no idea of personal discipline. He seems 
to think marriage a sacrament; he says that we owe 
respect to the Church, and he wants to maintain 
the king; he thinks there is something in woman 
that should make gross man ashamed." 

"Quite right," said Mrs. Felton. 

"He hasn't read Man and Superman," said Mr. 
Felton. "Anyhow, he doesn't want to alter society, 
and yet, he wants to alter individuals. Everybody 
likes a greyhound, straining at the leash. That's 

264 



11 AT BARGO COURT ^ 

what he wants. It doesn't connect, you know. Thus 
one might paint everything in the world pink, and 
yet leave the world itself just as it was. Fact is, 
he's got no general ideas; he likes to enjoy, he likes 
to make money; if he could get a bat big enough he'd 
play cricket, using the world as a ball. He's sort of 
mischievous in a friendly way, like a bright school- 
boy, and yet he's solemn, responsible. But, summing 
it all up, the world is his tuck-shop." 

"Oh, well," said Mrs. Felton, "you don't expect 
him not to enjoy himself. Here's your tea, made 
by an amateur. But it'll have to do, after all your 
grandeur." 

Mr. Felton pursued the subject. Two days of 
contact with Bulmer had obviously made upon him 
a heavy impression. He drew a vivid picture of 
this young man of forty-two, greedy, impulsive, 
ruthless, kindly, closed to ideas, and infinitely in- 
terested in them. According to him, Bulmer was 
mainly a soft-hearted, amiable man, who wanted 
to see everybody well off, or at least with enough 
money in their pockets to buy the things he adver- 
tised in the Daily Gazettes. Thus the Daily Ga- 
zettes would get advertisements, and people would 
get things, and everybody would be happy. Also, 
he liked his power, and frankly acknowledged that 
he liked having big staffs because he felt fit for that 
responsibility. 

"We talked about books a bit," said Mr. Felton. 
"I find he likes his own serials; he reads Zip for 
pleasure. And he likes . . . well, people like Jacobs, 
and the racing novels of Cooper and Nat Gould, and 
the Jerome humor, the sort of books one sees on a 

265 



°% CALIBAN *8 

bookstall. But all sorts of other things, too; me- 
moirs, books of travel, and, what is amazing, unex- 
pectedly good novels. I think he likes everything. 
Everything gives him ideas, suggests something that 
is happening. How can I put it? Yes, he never 
says, 'one day/ or 'in the future/ or 'I wonder.' 
But he does say, 'this is/ 'I am arranging/ Bul- 
mer is the present, and he makes it plausible. Prob- 
ably because he believes in it so violently, because 
he enjoys it so. He likes what he has and he likes 
to show it, with a sort of naive vanity. For in- 
stance, he's always saying things like, 'Asquith told 
me the other day . . ./ or 'a few weeks ago, when 
I was dining at Albemarle House . . .' " 

"Oh, bragging? " said Mrs. Felton. 

"Yes and no. He does brag, but he's modest. 
He never pretends to know when he doesn't. He 
said to me, 'I know nothing about literary criti- 
cism.' And to Sir Thomas, 'I don't understand 
finance' ; (this as if he didn't want to understand, as 
if he only wanted to record). Still, he's full of opin- 
ions. It's funny, one of the things he's keenest on 
is the woes and snares of wealth." 

"I suppose he's very rich?" 

"Oh, very. Nobody knows. Somebody told me 
the other day in the smoking-room that one could 
fix on him well over eighty thousand a year, but it 
must be more. There he is, talking and talking 
about the rich and their bad digestions, and their 
inability to enjoy things, and about their children 
who marry the wrong people, or their sons who get 
into debt or bad company. As if he were afraid 
of his wealth. Like the tyrant of Samos, who got so 

266 



"8 AT BARGO COURT « 

frightened when everything turned out right that to 
propitiate fate he threw his favorite ring into the sea." 

"And a fish brought it back," said Mrs. Felton, 
smiling. 

"Yes, that might happen to Bulmer, unless he 
cracks up through nervous excitement and satisfies 
fate that way. You see, he's always excited, like 
an octopus with roving tentacles, in case something 
were to go by. He's always buzzing on the tele- 
phone, talking to the Daily Gazette, and giving them 
exciting information; or raving because the govern- 
ment is hiding news from Ireland, or something. 
He's always got his steam up, and he never gets 
exactly under way. Of course, he's always full of 
judgments, things that excite him. He says that 
we can't coerce Ulster because we're too sentimental 
to shoot. And if we did shoot Protestants we'd 
only get the Nonconformists rising. He's got sense, 
in a way, a sort of practical sense — like a comfortable 
man in the City. That's why the comfortable men 
follow him. He understands them, he understands 
their pleasures, Zip, snippets of information, the 
cinema. To him man is a weary giant, and he 
thinks it's his job to wake him up. He wakes him- 
self up, you know, and then he feels lonely. Feels 
he's got to stir up the rest. And there he sits, stimu- 
lated in a sleepy world. And when he can't think 
of anything to wake it up with, I think he goes out 
and buys things to flog his own interest. Anything; 
newspapers, blocks, pads, telegraph forms, any- 
thing, just to be busy." 

"He must feel rather uncomfortable in this sleepy 
country. More tea? It hasn't stood very long." 

267 



*S? CALIBAN "$ 

"Yes, I think he'd have been happier in America. 
His violent judgments would have gone down better 
there. The roving energy of the Americans, their 
push, their rapidly erected civilization would have 
suited him better. He likes the colonies, he likes 
their independence; he says the colonies don't care 
a hang for us and would cut the painter any day. 
And to hear him talk about the Cabinet is a lesson 
in invective. According to him, some of them drink 
and some of them drug, and some do both, and 
they're all immoral. I suppose he won't spare me 
if ever I attain those dizzy heights. You see, he 
doesn't exactly judge people. He gets an impression 
of them. When he's dealing with a Cabinet Minis- 
ter, that process is too rough. No Ministers are 
black, and none are white; they're all spotty. That's 
why he gets on so well with the masses, they're 
definite. He understands their love of material 
property, their hatred of brutal truth, their passion 
for an excitement to enliven their gray lives. And 
he can find the material to interest them because he's 
interested in everything. In thirty-six hours he 
talked to me about politics, about golf, about the 
running of newspapers, about Bernard Shaw, whom 
he calls a good stunt, about Wells, whom he likes 
because his science business is catching on; he talked 
architecture, and how much better they built in 
Germany; about railways, and the shocking state 
of by-lines; about the Yellow Peril — he's awfully 
afraid of it. And he talked about the suffragettes 
— he's dead against forcible feeding. ' Let 'em starve/ 
he said. ' It'll satisfy the dramatic instincts of the 
public.' It was like sitting for thirty-six hours in a 

268 



•g AT BARGO COURT j8 

second-class railway carriage coming up from Sur- 
biton. But he's got something that they haven't, 
something terrific, intensity of interest, intensity of 
will. He knows desperately what he wants. He 
may catch flies, but he's got the mind of a Hon. 
Somehow, shrilly, coarsely, stupidly, by energy, by 
occasional generosity, by courage, he's managed to 
stumble into greatness." 



Part IV 
WAY WITHOUT END 



So as who-so-ever hee bee, to whome Fortune hath beene a servant, 
and the Time- a friend: let him but take the accompt of his memory 
(for wee have no other keeper of our pleasures past) and truelie 
examine what it hath reserved, either of beauty and youth, or fore- 
gone delights; what it hath saved, that it might last, of his dearest 
affections, or of whatever else the amorous Springtime gave his 
thoughts of contentment, then unvaluable; and hee shall finde that 
all the art which his elder yeares have, can draw no other vapor out 
of these dissolutions, than heavie, secret, and sad sighs. . . . 

— Sir Walter Raleigh, Historie of the World. 



Chapter I 
Janet 

SHOOT 'em/' said Lady Collingham, "shoot 
'em. Line 'em up against a wall, one in ten. 
Wouldn't get any more strikes or rebellions in what's 
its name? Ireland? Know what I mean?" The 
old lady looked round her dinner-table with a smile 
of excessive amiability. 

"Don't you think that's rather extreme, Lady 
Collingham?" said young Ramsey, of the Foreign 
Office by day and of Ciro's by night. 

"Extreme? Stuff and nonsense!" cried Lady Col- 
lingham, in her famous Sarah, Duchess of Marlbor- 
ough style. "Why! shootin's too good for 'em. I 
wouldn't shoot a man like Parkin, or Barkin, or 
Larkin, or ... or what's his name. Boil him, I 
say, boil him." 

"After he's done his six months," remarked Mr. 
Simpson. "Can't boil him till he's served his time. 
It'd be illegal, you know." 

Lady Collingham shook her untidy tow and gray 
hair at him, and, wrinkling her little features, made 
a face like an ancient monkey. 

What do you say, Lord Buhner?" she asked. 
Oh, of course, I forgot. You're a Radical, ain't 
you? Must have been one of your young men stole 

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it 
tt 



*8 CALIBAN <$ 

the Crown jewels from the Castle. You want Bed- 
mond as Premier, don't you? Bedmond? Charlie, 
is his name Bedmond or is it Redmond? Well, 
never mind, make it Traitor." 

The little party laughed, for everybody adored 
Lady Collingham, her virulence, her frequent un- 
intelligibility, and her immense enthusiasm for all 
novelty, provided it was not political. Her husband 
was still enchanted with her, and once in his life had 
defined her: "Bessie won't let me call my soul my 
own, but the little cat's welcome to it." The con- 
versation went on about Ireland, because that coun- 
try always brought Lady Collingham to her maxi- 
mum temperature, and in those moments she was 
most amusing. So, for some time, Bulmer carelessly 
accepting the Radical label, defended the Home 
Rule bill. 

"What about Asquith's last speech?" shrieked 
Lady Collingham, waving her little claws. 

"Rather weak, I'm afraid," said Bulmer. "I 
rather wish he'd never gone to Ladybank." 

"He who goes to Ladybank goes to Canossa 
to-morrow," said Mr. Ramsey. This cryptic re- 
mark completely devastated the conversation. Lady 
Collingham swiftly asked Mr. Simpson, who was 
just back from Paris, whether it was true that white 
hair was going out, and whether those green and 
blue wigs were really a success. Sir Charles Colling- 
ham engaged his neighbor, Clara Milford, suffra- 
gette, three times in jail for window-breaking, and 
once for church burning, while Mr. Ramsey turned 
to fat Mrs. Simpson, whom Bulmer had taken in, 

and began discussing the new stamped velvets, con- 

274 






JANET ^ 



trasting them with the light-flowered velvets which 
were then in for opera wraps. Bulmer, suddenly 
suspended, looked once more at his neighbor. They 
had exchanged a few words over the soup; he had 
had a fleeting sensation of a slim young woman with 
a warm complexion and a certain air of cold 
modesty. 

"Have you seen 'Joan of Arc'?" he asked (for 
he had learned what to say to people one doesn't 
know). 

"Yes," said the woman; and he remembered that 
she had been announced as Mrs. Willoughby. "I 
didn't like it very much. I think Raymond Roze 
has overdone the pageantry. Don't you? " 

"No," said Bulmer. "I can't say that struck me. 
You know Joan of Arc's life; well, it was rather 
sensational, wasn't it? Battles and bangs, and pro- 
cessions, and crowning kings, and all that sort of 
thing. Must have been pretty busy, to say nothing 
of the religious stunt. You know, religion is like a 
newspaper; takes a lot of advertising. If I could 
get a girl like Joan of Arc to boom the Daily Gazette, 
why, we'd wipe the floor with the London press." 

She smiled with an air faintly amused, and opened 
gray-green eyes that struck him as peculiar. They 
were not peculiar, but Janet Willoughby always 
seemed to stare a little, because her eyelids were ex- 
cessively curved in the middle, and so the eyes looked 
large and round. As she did this she raised her 
eyebrows, and, for a moment, Bulmer lost continuity 
of ideas. He went on talking carelessly, a little dis- 
comfited by her interest, which was altogether in- 
tense and cold. As he did so he observed her more 

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CALIBAN "g 



closely. Indeed, she was very slfrn, rather thin, and 
as she breathed the blue silk of her frock rose very- 
little. Upon her faintly yellow shoulders lay straps 
of blue and silver. She wore no jewels, save at the 
breast — a large silver plaque studded with sapphires. 
The conversation wandered from Joan of Arc. 

"I suppose it's very hard work running all those 
papers," said Mrs. Willoughby, with a polite air. 

"Yes, it is, and one pretty well has no time to do 
anything else. But one doesn't want to." 

"How very interesting," she said, opening very 
wide her gray-green eyes. He noticed the healthy 
color that lay over the yellow skin, the rather ill- 
dressed" brown hair, and the small, regular teeth. 
Untidy hair and good teeth. Mrs. Willoughby was 
obviously well-bred. He noticed her hands, too; 
large, but fairly well formed, and faintly red. Girlish 
hands and bony wrists. With her long arms, her 
suggestion of a long body, and her raw forlornness, 
in her clothes of flaming silver and excessive blue 
she looked like a drawing by Char din. 

There was a little disarray, for Lady Collingham 
began to scream as Bulmer refused to promise to 
come next day with her to a tango tea. 

"Oh, do come," she implored. "You won't? 
Your last chance?" 

"No, I won't," said Bulmer, obstinately. "I'm 
not a dancing bear." 

"You won't? Then I shall tell what I know." 

"And what do you know, Lady Collingham?" 
asked Mr. Ramsey. 

"Lord Bulmer knows what I know," said the little 
lady, in sinister tones. 

276 






U JANET °£ 



n 

a 



Not guilty/' said Buhner. 
Oh, yes you are," said Lady Collingham. 
Every man of your age is guilty. If you weren't 
you wouldn't be fit for society. Lord Bulmer, I 
hang it over you. If you don't appear to-morrow 
at the Queen's Theater at half past four, I shall tell. 
And don't think you can buy me off by putting my 
picture in your nasty Radical papers, like you did 
Mrs. Schloppenstein the other day, after treading on 
her train." 

"Now, Bessie, really," said Sir Charles. 

"Charlie, don't aggravate me. Haven't I known 
for forty-five years that I married the wrong man, 
without your rubbing it in? But what could I do?" 
she asked, helplessly. "They didn't make men like 
you in my time, Lord Bulmer." 

Everybody laughed; one always laughed at Lady 
Collingham, for when she wasn't funny she was 
saucy. But Bulmer did not quite like it. He had 
precedence at court over all this crowd, but still 
... it was so difficult to know when they were 
chaffing. As if Mrs. Willoughby had observed his 
flush, and yet wished to say nothing about it, she 
murmured: 

"Isn't she a darling? It's a sharp tongue but a 
kind heart." 

Bulmer looked at her quickly. He was not intui- 
tive enough to know that she understood his em- 
barrassment, but he felt a vague sympathy that 
warmed him, so he was impelled to confidence, and 
said, vaguely: 

"One feels a fool." 

"But one isn't a fool," said Mrs. Willoughby. 

277 



*g CALIBAN « 

"Oh, I'm not being modest," said Buhner, "only 
. . . they chaff." 

"There's nothing in it," said Mrs. Willoughby. 
"I don't think she'd have married you. Not really." 

"That's just it," said Bulmer, with sudden sulki- 
ness. "She wouldn't. And no woman's got the 
right to say the contrary of the thing she means, 
letting you understand it. If she really does mean 
the contrary. If she tells the truth she's lying." 

"I say," replied Mrs. Willoughby, "that's very 
subtle." 

"I suppose it is," replied Bulmer. "But, you 
know, nobody ever called me subtle." 

"Oh, I'm sure you conceal the wisdom of the 
serpent; well, not by means of the cooing of the 
dove, but still with some effect." 

Bulmer looked at her again. Her calmness, her 
cool air, her assured, grammatical sentences, at- 
tracted him. He saw that her nose was rather long, 
and that she had thick, red lips, rather poor in 
curves. He tried to compare her with something; 
what he was looking for was "ice maiden," but he 
couldn't find it. So he hurried, and soon was talking 
about newspaper booming. She listened gravely, 
genuinely interested. As he felt this he grew boast- 
ful, told her the story of the great placard of the 
Daily Gazette and how he had recovered from his 
premature announcement of peace with the placard : 
Peace signed ! The Daily Gazette told you so yes- 
terday! Who's first with the news now? She 
laughed. They were in the drawing-room now, and 
Mr. Simpson was very softly playing fragments on 
the piano, while Lady Collingham sat by his side, 

278 



*8 JANET 






stroked into repose by the music she loved. The 
others gathered round the mantelpiece, where Clara 
Milford was grinding the faces of the men, while 
Mrs. Simpson amiably heaved in a large chair. So 
Bulmer and Mrs. Willoughby talked for a long time. 
She liked the frank vanity with which he exhibited 
his origins, and for the sake of interesting her he 
exaggerated his early poverty. 

"How wonderful it must be to have risen as you 
have," she said, "while I . . ."; she leaped away 
from self-revelation like a frightened fawn. 

"Yes/' said Bulmer, "but you know, rising . . . 
one's never sure one's on top. If one's born on top 
one can't fall off. And if I fell off I'd have a long 
way to come down." 

"But you won't fall off," said Mrs. Willoughby. 
"You'll rise and you'll rise until you bang your head 
against heaven." 

"Then I get a bang whatever I do," said Bulmer. 

She laughed, and he felt witty. Mrs. Willoughby 
wondered if she liked him. Of course it was an ex- 
perience, meeting him, the man who was going to 
beat Northcliffe. And he was not disappointing her; 
he exhibited all the private energy and the ruthless- 
ness which she had expected. But she had not ex- 
pected to find him modest. It was a curious feeling, 
and a little repulsive. He had captured so much 
wealth and power, how dared he also grasp at 
modesty? She smiled at herself as she reflected that 
there was something pleasant even in that ultimate 
greed. While she thought Bulmer stared at her, 
forgetting by degrees details of her personality and 

attaching to those of her person. He did not con- 
19 279 



« CALIBAN Tg 

elude that she was beautiful; he was critical of 
women's points, and he saw that the long nose made 
her look inquiring, but the whole effect of her, her 
height especially — for she was taller than he — her 
amiable negligence, her courteous self-assurance, 
filled him with an exquisite desire to touch her, 
reverently, perhaps. She disturbed him. And she 
seemed so unaware of it. She talked to him like a 
well-bred young lady in her first season. She regis- 
tered what he said with interest, but without emo- 
tion. He felt the need to know her better, and grew 
clumsy. 

"I haven't met your husband," he said. 

"I'm a widow." 

"Oh, sorry. Perhaps I oughtn't to have asked 
that." 

" Why not? I'm not in mourning." 

"Did he . . .?" 

"He died eighteen months ago." 

Bulmer paused. He knew he was being indis- 
creet, but he could not stop. "I suppose it's very 
hard," he said, "being a widow so young; and all 
alone." 

"I'm not so young." After a pause, seeing that 
he was going to question her, and as if she decided 
to save him from his own indiscretion, "I'm twenty- 
six. I've got a little boy. That's all." 

After a long pause he said, "I hope you'll let 
me come and see you." He knew he ought not to 
say that yet, but for a long time he had chosen to 
say what he chose, and he found people so ready to 
accept this attitude that it had become a habit, even 
though he disapproved of it. 

280 



°g JANET H 

"I shall be very pleased," said Mrs. Willoughby. 
"Don't bother about my address. It's in the tele- 
phone book under Mrs. K. W. Willoughby." 

Buhner did not that night go to sleep at once. 
He was puzzled rather than preoccupied. He re- 
created her before his eyes, and swore because he 
had forgotten for the sake of their redness the shape 
of her lips. For some time, sitting in his pajamas, 
he remained in vague meditation. Then he sud- 
denly jumped up and went to the dressing-table to 
look at himself in his shaving mirror. The enlarged 
picture of his features came up. Still fresh! Rather 
a lot of gray about the temples. But his blue eyes 
were very clear, and his thin, intelligent face, 
pleased him. By degrees he saw himself no more; 
divorced from his body, his spirit sped on misty 
pinions into an impalpable realm. He was uplifted 
in an intolerable delight, to which he tremulously 
gave the name of love. At last he switched off the 
light and, as he got into bed, said aloud : 

"I want her. I'll get rid of Vi. I must. Yes, 
I want her. Lady Collingham called her Janet. 
Janet!" 

He telephoned Vi at about half past eight next 
morning. It was a short conversation, characteris- 
tic of both of them. 

"I say," said Buhner, "I want to divorce you." 

"What!" said Vi, in a trembling voice, wondering 
whether he had found out about the secretary of 
the bridge club. 

"Want to divorce you, see? You'll be all right. 
I'll make it worth your while." 

"I never heard of such impertinence," gasped Vi. 

281 



*$ CALIBAN IS 

"And, anyhow, I don't think it's gentlemanly to 
discuss it over the telephone." 

"Oh, well, if you must argue about it I'll come 
along. I'll be with you in half an hour. Good-by." 

The interview produced no results, for Vi soon 
discovered that Bulmer knew nothing about her 
affair, which was now finished, and had been replaced 
by a feeble intrigue with a flying man, aged nineteen, 
and stationed at Hendon. 

"I don't see it at all," she replied, when he had 
done. "Why should I let you divorce me? One 
might think I'd behaved badly." 

"That's not the question. I just want to make 
an arrangement. Everybody does that. There's 
not one divorce in ten that isn't a fake." 

"Well, if that's so," said Vi, "and if I was to 
agree, it seems to me it's for me to divorce you, not 
you me." 

"Oh, I can't have a fuss. In my position it'd be 
awkward." 

"Well, what about my position? " said Vi. "What 
do you think my friends would say?" 

"Oh, damn!" said Bulmer. "How much will you 
do it for? What about ten thousand a year?" 

Vi hesitated for a moment. It was a lot. Still, 
what would she do with it? The boy's tastes were 
modest. 

"I don't see it at all," she said, at last. "You 
don't think I'm going to call myself Mrs. Violet 
Bulmer, or Lady Violet Bulmer, or whatever it is, 
after being Lady Bulmer. No fear." 

They argued for a long time without result. Bul- 
mer realized that if he told her that he wanted to 

282 






JANET °£ 



marry somebody else, then on no terms would she 
divorce him, even if he agreed to that. 

In reality he knew that it would not come to that. 
The idea of running away with Mrs. Willoughby did 
not frighten him so very much, even though a 
divorce was more serious for a Liberal than for a 
Conservative. Only the idea of Mrs. Willoughby 
running away with him; well, really . . . 

He went to see his solicitor. Another unsatisfac- 
tory interview. He realized in advance that it would 
be unsatisfactory, for he could not escape knowing 
a little law. 

"I'm afraid," said the solicitor, "that one of you 
must suffer." 

"How do you mean, suffer?" 

"Well, one of you has got to do the divorcing, and 
the other has got to give the cause." 

"Oh, I know, I know," growled Bulmer. "But 
why should I be dragged through the courts? After 
all, I pay." He felt injured; if a man was ready to 
give a woman ten thousand a year to get rid of her, 
well, really, if the law wouldn't indorse that sort of 
thing it was unfair to the woman. 

"No, there's nothing for it, Lord Bulmer. It's not 
for me to recommend collusion, but," he smiled, 
"I've been in the law for many years and I've come 
across half a dozen divorces that weren't arranged 
— at least, I think they weren't arranged. No doubt 
if Lady Bulmer were to become aware of some 
irregularity on your part, and if she realized that 
you would agree to a verdict giving her this very 
generous allowance, you . . . well, I could talk to her 
and we should see." 

283 



« CALIBAN *5? 

"But, damn it all, man!" shouted Bulmer, "do 
you really think I'm going to Leicester Square and 
. . . really this is absurd. To begin with, I'm a peer, 
and a recent creation like me can't do these things. 
If the barony dated back to Edward VI, I don't 
say." 

"Oh, I don't know. In these days — " The so- 
licitor talked for some time, and Bulmer listened 
sulkily. He couldn't very well tell him that if he 
followed the obvious way of giving Vi cause for 
divorce he would spoil his chances with Janet. As 
for Janet, well, he didn't see her in the part of co- 
respondent. If he had seen her so he would not 
have wanted her. 

"I suppose," said the solicitor, negligently, "if 
you'll excuse my suggesting such a thing, but . . . 
well, Lady Bulmer has been living apart from you 
for a long time . . . sometimes in these cases ladies 
commit imprudences." 

Bulmer did not understand for a moment, then 
bellowed with laughter: "Vi! One can see you don't 
know her. Besides, she's forty-six." The solicitor 
said nothing. He knew women of forty-six, especially 
women of forty-six with several thousand a year. 

"No," Bulmer went on, "that's no good." He 
remembered her slowness, the brooding passion 
which he had not understood and taken for indiffer- 
ence, Vi's lack of social taste, her way of looking 
away from men which to him suggested coldness. 

"No," he said again, "she prefers chocolate." 

"Well, one never knows," said the solicitor. "It 
wouldn't cost very much to get somebody to keep 

an eye on her for a little." 

284 



IB JANET « 

"All right/' said Buhner. " You have a try. But 
you won't catch anything." 

Buhner was right, for, after two months, the de- 
tectives reported that Lady Bulmer's life was quite 
orderly, and, indeed, that she often went to bed at 
half past nine. The attempt might have been suc- 
cessful if Vi had not been terrified by the interview 
and had not dismissed the flying man. Realizing 
that Buhner wanted to get rid of her she was ready 
to go to any extreme of virtue rather than content 
him. So all Buhner got was an idea for the reform 
of the divorce law, which provided a savage but 
valuable correspondence in Zip and paid for the legal 
expenses. 

Meanwhile, the new attraction gained strength. 
Taking advantage of her implied consent he called 
on Mrs. Willoughby at her flat in Bickenhall Man- 
sions. She received him in a spirit that was either 
cool pleasure or reluctant disapproval. He did not 
quite know which. Seated on the couch behind her 
tea-table, she was like a fresh, green shrub, with 
tight blossoms. She talked commonplaces with an 
original twist. She listened to him endlessly, and he 
expressed himself with a new facility. 

"You know," he said, "I can't explain what I 
mean, only I try to tell you things in the way I feel 
them." 

" Don't you always do that?" 

"I don't know. No, I don't seem to try with 
other people. I just say what I mean, but with you 
I try to say what I really mean." 

She flushed slightly, for she was one of those 
women to whom an intelligent approach makes a 

285 



CALIBAN *8J 



stronger appeal than a cry of passion. And it was 
flattering that this great man should, for her, try 
and fail. He was very happy with her, for she did 
not provide him with the feather-bed of adulation 
that he found in most men and all women; she 
stimulated him. She suggested to him that within 
his being lived something subtle and exquisite which, 
with her help, he might rescue, and her surroundings 
charmed him. She had a taste for white paint, and, 
indeed, there was in the flat no crude color. The 
couch was made of gray linen and was sprinkled 
with cushions of black, silver, pale blue, and water- 
green. Mrs, Willoughby refused to be affected by 
her period. Bakst and the Russian ballet, Futurism, 
the crimson denunciation of Blast, did not touch her. 
She moved among women clad in scarlet and gold, 
turbaned in emerald, stockinged in cobwebs, but 
remained gracious and aloof in her pale, disdainful 
gowns. She lived among Georgian furniture and 
Queen Anne silver; as a rule, when he went to her, 
he found in her large, shapely hands a book of verse 
bound in white, or essays, mauve inside and out. 
They had come to a certain familiarity. He had 
dined at her flat with pleasant, semi-elderly people, 
who had heard of the Daily Gazette, but never read 
it, who had enough money and wanted no more, 
who did nothing very much except make ready for 
the country when they were in town, and plan visits 
to town when they were in the country. They had 
nothing at all to say, and said it with some charm. 
It was rarefied, this atmosphere. It lent itself 
neither to cartoon nor leaderette. 
She had shown him her little boy, too, a large, 

286 






JANET % 



solemn child of two, rather like her with his large, 
appraising eyes. Jack was getting to know him, and 
sometimes gave him a condescending smile. And 
he touched him with some emotion; it struck him 
once that to hold small Jack must be rather like 
holding her. Jack was so consenting without being 
desirous; he was so polite about it, though friendly. 
For now Buhner was wholly in love with Janet 
Willoughby. They were still formal; called each 
other Lord Bulmer and Mrs. Willoughby. But once 
he came for her in the Rolls-Royce and insisted on 
taking her to Kew Gardens. She hesitated a little, 
but, seeing nothing that she could object to, agreed. 
Her nearness was delicious, and in the hothouses 
she stood among the orchids and the palms; about 
them the scented air rose humid and caressing. She 
affected him extraordinarily; so cool beside these 
sensuous flowers. Suddenly he said : 

"How different you are from them. You're like 



warm snow." 



She smiled. She did not understand him, but she 
was not displeased. She did not know what she 
thought of him: so much brutality covering a spirit 
that seemed to her vulgarized by circumstance. He 
told her how much the greenhouses had cost to 
build. She didn't want to know that. But she 
wondered whether she would have liked it better if, 
in this place, he had spoken swooning verse. She 
did not know whether she liked him; he embarrassed 
while he pleased her. He so manifestly said the wrong 
thing. He was . . . sensational. But it was his func- 
tion to be sensational. His objectionable qualities 
were his attractions; only excess made him possible. 

287 



*8 CALIBAN *8 

She understood him better when, later on, he made 
her come to the office to see the paper through the 
press. He began by taking her round properly, by 
showing her the copy as it was handed to the lino- 
type operator, explained the machine (much to her 
boredom); he made her follow the stereo-plates, 
showed her how the wet molds were taken, and made 
her stand beside the press and spell backward from 
the curved plates to-morrow's news. But, after a 
while, he could not bear to stay outside the issue. 
While showing her a form where display advertise- 
ments had been set up by hand, he grew enraged by 
the breach of a small regulation — one line of type 
in an advertisement had been drawn from the same 
font as a Daily Gazette heading. He shouted for the 
foreman, who came, followed by several compositors. 
He rang bells, and demanded that the head of the 
shop should be sent for at once. Irrelevant persons 
joined the group, and when, at last, the mistake was 
amended, he remembered Janet, who stood outside 
the group. 

"Sorry," he said, "but if one doesn't keep an eye 
on things oneself, well, you see what happens. Do 
excuse my having left you standing there." 

She smiled. "Of course you must look after your 
work. I think it's splendid." 

He gave her a grateful look. He understood that 
she was telling the truth, though he could not guess 
why she thought him splendid and how much she 
could appreciate his disregard of her. He thought 
he should stay by her side, as she was his guest, 
while she was glad to find him caught up by a sort of 
creative impulse and become a rough, inhuman figure. 

288 



!£ JANET °£ 

More and more often now, though he dared not 
test their relation, he looked at himself in the even- 
ing in his shaving glass. 

"Forty-two, nearly forty- three," he said. "And 
she's twenty-six. It's a lot." Then he thought: 
"Well, in another year I shall be forty-four. That 
won't improve things. Why not try now?" 

But he did not try. He was afraid, for she roused 
in him none of the consciousness of power that he 
had found in other women. He knew that her re- 
fusal would hurt him so much that he dared not risk 
it. It was the first time that he had ever been 
afraid of anything. Besides, what was the good? 
There was Vi. He was so disturbed that he spent 
an evening with Tarland at the engineer's dowdy 
house in West Kensington. He intended to tell his 
old friend, but he could not: he was like a miser 
unwilling to reveal his hoard. Then a sudden de- 
spair overcame him. The future was hopeless. He 
had not the courage to assure himself of its hope- 
lessness. It was as if he hypnotized himself into 
believing that there was hope. There was, so long 
as he did not test it. Suddenly he passed through 
a patch of hatred; he resented Janet and his desire 
of her. He told himself: "I'm not going to make a 
fool of myself. I've gone too far as it is. The only 
thing to do is to cut my loss." 



Chapter II 
Cutting a Loss 

FOR a few weeks Bulmer was like a lion in the 
arena after the emperor has pardoned the Chris- 
tians. Uncontrollable fury invaded him. He felt 
the need to assert himself. As if he inwardly realized 
his cowardice before Mrs. Willoughby, as if to regain 
his self-esteem, he had to face something difficult 
and dangerous. He had read Four Feathers; it was 
a little like that. There was Ulster; yes, of course, 
for this was January, 1914, but he was tiring of 
Ulster. Being a Liberal, he obtained no satisfaction 
from the enlistment and parades of the Carsonites, 
while the National Volunteers, arming in opposition, 
seemed to lack the impressive quality of the Ulster- 
men. He realized that this was because the Ulster- 
men were arming against the law, while the National 
Volunteers prepared to uphold it. So the heroic role 
fell to the Ulstermen. 

Chance led him to discover that, some years be- 
fore, M. Clemenceau had waged a ferocious cam- 
paign against official delays in the French Civil 
Service. A sudden destructive joy overwhelmed Bul- 
mer. He, too, would be a tiger. He, too, would 
break cabinets and raise the old stones of Whitehall. 
The assault began at once and w r as frightful. He 

290 



IB CUTTING A LOSS *g 

had agents in every government office, who com- 
municated facts over the telephone. Within a week 
he had collected endless instances of delays in answer- 
ing letters, of forms sent to people who were dead or 
in lunatic asylums; he caused a civil service drama 
to be composed, where the principal parts were taken 
by "Snoozer" of the War Office, "Slack" of the 
Local Government Board, and "Passiton" of the 
F. O. Snappy Bits came out with a song entitled 
"Winnie of Whitehall," where the words "more de- 
lay, more delay," were set to ragtime. When at 
last a dossier dealing with twenty-four pounds of 
apples, which had been allowed to rot in an experi- 
mental farm, was stolen from the Board of Agricult- 
ure, copied by twelve typists, and returned next 
day to the unsuspecting Board, the government felt 
that it ought to do something. The correspondence 
about the twenty-four pounds of apples, and the 
compensation due to the farmer, had been going on 
for six years; also the farmer died, leaving the case 
unsettled. The Daily Gazette took up this pitiful 
story under the title of "Who Broke the Farmer's 
Heart?" Day by day portions of the dossier were 
printed. And to make quite sure that the public 
should not miss the point, Buhner caused minutes 
reading "Noted, thank you," or "Passed to you, 
please," to be printed in block lettering. After four 
days the government realized that, at this rate of 
publication, the revelations would go on for several 
months. They knew their dossier; it was a large 
one. Private secretaries telephoned; a few kindly 
words were said to Buhner at dinner. But this did 
not move him. Indeed, he did not hesitate to print 

291 



*g CALIBAN **? 

reports of these advances, and to declare that he 
would fight to the last apple. 

Then, while the Attorney-General was considering 
whether Buhner could not be prosecuted under the 
Official Secrets Act, the attack stopped. Refer- 
ences to the civil service ceased. Bulmer had grown 
tired of the campaign and had substituted therefor 
a competition with a thousand-pound prize for a 
new song to beat "You Made Me Love You, I 
Didn't Want to Do It." Also, after a month's ab- 
stention, he had gone back to Janet. No explana- 
tion took place, but his sudden telephone call and 
his hurried question, "Would she be in that after- 
noon?" struck her as significant. She hesitated be- 
fore letting him come. If one saw a good deal of 
a man regularly, it was normal; but if he stopped 
coming, and then returned, he implied that he came 
for more. And she did not know yet whether she 
was attracted to him; could not decide whether she 
was to be attracted entirely. So again Bulmer sat 
in the small flat and played with Jack, who knew 
him again, but obviously treated him like some one 
he'd met in society. He talked more about his 
policy than he had done until then, and Janet vent- 
ured to disapprove of his attack on the civil service. 

"What!" said Bulmer, "you've read it? I thought 
you didn't read the Daily Gazette" 

"No, I didn't. But after meeting you and hearing 
all about it . . . well, you know, one gets interested." 

Bulmer looked at her with humble, adoring eyes. 
"Do you like it?" he asked, excitedly, "now that 
you know it better?" 

She hesitated. He was so intense in his desire 

292 



<XL> 



£ CUTTING A LOSS *g 



that she should care for his paper. He was ridicu- 
lous. Other men had wanted her to care for them. 
But he was touching; it was so selfless, the love that 
he gave to his detestable paper. So she said : 

"Yes, I do, very much. It's so bright, so intelli- 
gent. Only, of course . . ." 
"Of course what? " 

"Well, you don't seem to care what you hit. Our 
old traditions." 

" I've no use for traditions. I make 'em. I made 

one when I was at school. It lasted seven months." 

She gave a high, crystalline laugh. ' ' Seven months, 

Lord Bulmer! I'm afraid your tradition hadn't 

much staying power." 

"Oh, it was all right, only it got worn out. You 
know, traditions wear out very fast in these days." 
"You haven't got it at all," said Janet. "A tra- 
dition, a real one, can't die." 

"Oh, what does it do? Just lie about and block 
the road?" 

"Some people think so. You do, I believe." 
"No, I don't," cried Bulmer, anxious to like what 
she liked. "I tell you I'm making a tradition; the 
tradition of keeping up-to-date. The tradition of 
being active and keeping your ears open to every- 
thing, and doing everything, and understanding 
everything." 

"That's not a tradition," said Janet; "that's 
epilepsy. What you really do is to smash traditions. 
Oh, you may be quite right, but you can't make 
things if you hate them." 

"You've got to smash things before you build new 
things. I've no time to love things, I hate too many." 

293 



*g CALIBAN *8 

"But surely you must care for something, to say 
nothing of the Daily Gazette! I mean abstract 
things; your country or your party, the things to 
which you belong.' ' 

"I don't belong to my party. My party belongs 
to me." 

She laughed. "Then you'll never be a citizen of 
the world, for the world can't belong to you." 

"I'm not so sure," said Bulmer. "After all, it's 
a long life and a small world." 

"But what if you do conquer the world?" she 
said, bending forward, her eyes very wide. "Sup- 
posing you did end up like Napoleon, will you care 
for it? Will it be any good to you? You want to 
tread on the world instead of loving it. You've got 
to love something, you know." 

After a long pause Bulmer looked at her with a 
little fear in his eyes, and said, rather roughly: 

"What's the good of my loving what I can't get?" 
She understood him, and drew back. "What's the 
good of my talking about it? I'm married. She's 
not a bad sort, but we've lived apart for years. You 
know all about it." 

"Yes," she murmured, "I know." 

"Yes, of course you know. You know all the 
gutter gossip that cor&es from people I've sacked, 
and people I've cut, and people I won't advertise. 
I suppose they told you that I knocked her about, 
and drank, and drugged. Suppose they told you I 
tried to poison her, and was too much of a muddler 
to finish the job properly." 

"Don't," she said, shaken by his bitterness. 
"You know you're talking nonsense." She felt 

294 



« CUTTING A LOSS *£ 

that he was assuming heroic attitudes, and she 
hated it. 

"It's not nonsense," he went on. "It would have 
been if I'd said it three months ago." 

"I don't understand," said Janet. 

"I didn't feel like that three months ago. I didn't 
know you then. She wasn't in my way. I'm not 
used to having things in my way." 

She was silent for a moment. No, he was not 
taking up attitudes. It was much worse than that. 
And suddenly she asked herself what she would do 
if he were to rise from his chair and come closer. 
She could not resist her interest in him; he was re- 
pulsive in the way that a rhinoceros is repulsive; 
only one can dislike, but one cannot despise a rhinoc- 
eros. Then, with a note of sincerity in his voice 
that she could not mistake, he rested his head in his 
hands and said: 

"I wish I was dead." 

A new emotion passed through her. Now that he 
was abased she felt that he was a great man, and 
impulsively she bent across to him and pressed a 
weak hand, which lay limp in hers. "Don't de- 
spair," she whispered. "I don't know why I say 
that; I don't know why you shouldn't despair. But 
you know." Then she freed herself, for as he looked 
up at her she saw in his eyes such an entreaty that 
she feared a failure in her strength, now that his 
power was turned to weakness. 

He left her soothed, but soon the sense of his 
unarmed state inflamed him with rage. He sub- 
jected his publications to the devastating criticism 
through which he sometimes vented his ill humor. 

20 295 



W CALIBAN *8 

Within a few weeks he got rid of Ainsworth and re- 
placed him by Ford, while the foreign editor of the 
Daily Gazette was replaced by Renton, a professor of 
European reputation. And, for no particular reason, 
Ratcliffe was removed from Tittle Tattle; a racy 
person called Oakley took over the work. This 
violence, these novelties, satisfied in Bulmer a sort 
of revengefulness — if he could not rule mankind, at 
least he could make and break men. He liked mak- 
ing a man, especially a young one, for he was broad 
enough to feel no fear of the young generation, and 
he was leader enough to use it. He quarreled with 
youth only when it strove to lead, and then expelled 
it, full of contempt rather than hatred. But he was 
not malicious; when youth succeeded he always 
accorded it equality. He was like Mr. Bernard 
Shaw's tailor, the only creature in the world that 
understands young men, because he takes their 
measure anew every time he sees them. 

Thus the assistant editor of Snappy Bits, whom 
he very much valued because the man had been a 
steward on the P. & O. and acquired amazing infor- 
mation as correspondent for Reuter, insisted on leav- 
ing him to take over a news agency. Bulmer raged 
for nearly an hour, questioned the financial chances 
of the venture, and refused to listen to replies. 
" You'll fail. Take my word for it, you'll fail. It's 
all rot. It's a rotten agency. You'll lose your 
money. And don't you offer us any news; we've 
got all we want. I didn't think you were such a 
fool." The only thing that Bulmer did not say was 
what he felt. "You're my man. Mine. And you 
mustn't have anything of your own." . But the man 

296 



*B CUTTING A LOSS « 

was obstinate, and a few months later Bulmer saw 
that opposition papers were buying news from the 
agency. Then he met his ex-subordinate in White- 
friars Street. Having completely forgotten their 
angry conversation he shook hands with him heartily 
and said: 

"Well, how are things?" The reply satisfied him.' 
"How many contracts? Seven? Oh! And two 
more coming. At how much a year? Not bad, not 
bad. Well, well, I'm very glad you're on a good 
thing. I always thought there was something in 
news agencies. The old ones have got into a rut. 
My dear chap, I can't tell you how glad I am that 
I shoved you into it." 

Bulmer was entirely sincere. All he remembered 
was that he had had a talk about the agency; now 
that the agency was gaining support he instinctively 
ranged himself on the winning side. He was in those 
days already martyred by the opinion he had created. 
Thus, a cartoonist who was fighting "Spy" in Vanity 
Fair, and called himself "Cockatoo," cartooned him 
for a fashionable weekly. When Bulmer saw the 
cartoon he lost his temper. He didn't mind being 
taken off, he said, but he did want to know whose 
caricature it was. Who the hell did "Cockatoo" 
think the cartoon was like? 

"Like you, sir," said "Cockatoo." 

"You must be dippy," said Bulmer. "Like me! 
It's like you. It's like anybody. Let's test it." 
He rushed to the bell, called in the footman, in- 
structed him to send down Eleanor and Henrietta 
at once. When they came down he told the footman 
to stay. Then he made him fetch the butler. Hold- 

297 



°£ CALIBAN *S 

ing up the caricature he challenged them to say it 
was like him. 

" Ridiculous !" he shouted. " Absurd! Were you 
drunk when you did this?" 

Then " Cockatoo," who had a temper, forgot that 
he wanted to sell Bulmer the original, snatched it 
away, and walked out. The cartoon appeared. Six 
months later it appeared again at the one-man show 
of " Cockatoo's" collected cartoons. When the 
Daily Gazette art critic did the show he naturally 
noticed Buhner's picture, and, assuming that " Cock- 
atoo" was a protege of his employer, gave him a 
half-column of praise. Next morning, in bed, Bul- 
mer opened the Daily Gazette and saw the notice. 
He read it carefully to the end. He vaguely remem- 
bered the incident. Then he reflected that perhaps 
he'd been hasty. So he took up the telephone and, 
after a time, " Cockatoo" was found. 

I say, old chap," cried Bulmer into the receiver, 

seen the Daily Gazette this morning? WVve given 
your show a hell of a notice. Splendid, my dear 
chap, splendid! My man says there hasn't been a 
caricaturist like you since Leech. Splendid! How 
much do you want for it?" After all, the Daily 
Gazette was public opinion. He couldn't help it if 
it was his own paper. It was public opinion all the 
same. His opinion. You couldn't tell one from the 
other. 

These days of emotional uncertainty drove him 
to the drug of enterprise. In the five months that 
preceded the war he managed to create the Bristol 
Daily Gazette and the Wolverhampton Daily Gazette. 
Also, he developed a remunerative line of novelettes, 

298 






*$ CUTTING A LOSS **? 

now run by Ford as "The Buffalo Bill Series" (for 
boys), and "The Hildegarde Novels" (for girls). 
His new cartoonist, "Tick," became famous in a 
few weeks in Buhner's new comic, entitled "Smiles." 
Then Bulmer reflected that though he might be rich 
he was not quite serious enough. 

"Religion!" he cried, "that's the ticket. We've 
never given religion a show, and there's kick in it 
yet." So Bulmer engaged the secretary of a Metho- 
dist body and soon had him running "Ritual," 
which was very high church, and "The Working 
Christian," which sheltered ethical nonconformity 
under a thin veneer of faith. He was not happy, 
but he was excited and disturbed; it was almost as 
good. 



Chapter III 
A Paragraph 

BULMER paused for a moment in Baker Street. 
He looked up at Bickenhall Mansions, as if for 
a moment a voluptuary; he sought to maintain an- 
ticipation and defer delight. He had not seen Janet 
for eleven weeks, during which, with a married sister 
and her family, she had been touring in the south of 
France and in Italy. She had written to him several 
times with cruel and charming detachment. She en- 
joyed Florence, and terrified him by suggesting that 
palazzos were very cheap and that she was thinking 
of buying one. Fortunately she added: "It's only 
a cottage, really. A cottage on the Arno! How 
romantic! But then a woman of my years makes a 
fool of herself when she's romantic. One can be 
romantic at twenty-one and one can be romantic at 
forty-one, but when one's twenty-seven one's got to 
think whether Florentine sanitation is good, whether 
Italian milk suits a British baby, and whether one 
can bear the two days that separate one from the 
Daily Gazette. Of course there is the Continental 
Daily Mail. That is a point." He laughed. It 
was so warming to have her chaff him, and flaunt 
the detested rival. He looked at Baker Street 
Station, that in the light June air looked like a 

300 



Tg A PARAGRAPH « 

Turkish bath conceived by Scheherazade; blue dis- 
tance hung beyond the green cardboard trees of 
Regent's Park, and the shadows fell blurred at the 
edges as if drawn in charcoal. For a moment 
Bulmer felt beauty; then he went briskly to the 
lift. 

It was delicious in the flat; it was as he had ex- 
pected. She rose with a certain warmth to greet 
him, and for a moment he held her hand in both of 
his, looking humbly into the open, gray-green eyes 
that were so calm, at the red mouth that smiled, 
half glad, half apprehensive. An impulse passed 
through him to take her in his arms. Then he was 
afraid. And the impulse reasserted itself, but as it 
did so she freed herself. It was too late. They sat 
down, for a moment silent. He had feared that 
minute because of something that had happened the 
day before, and he was glad when she began to talk 
of her journey, of places seen, of her sister; he grew 
more and more assured that she did not know. She 
might never know. Then she said: 

"It's been very nice, but oh, you can't tell how 
nice it is to be back in London. The taxis and the 
pretty girls — there aren't any in Italy, or they've 
got no complexions — and the dear old Ebury Bridge 
omnibus, and the nice smoky smell. I am enjoying 
myself. I'd like to lunch at the Carlton, Claridge's, 
and the Ritz the same day. And I've sent out for 
all the newspapers, all yours, and all everybody's. 
And I'm going to read them all." 

Bulmer laughed. It was adorable to find such a 
woman fit to be such a child. But he did not like 
her remark, and said: 

301 



*8? CALIBAN °£ 



a 



Oh, I shouldn't read them all. They aren't 
worth it. You'll have something else to do." 

"All," said Janet, firmly. "I want to hear what 
everybody's doing; who's been married and who's 
been buried, and all the theater plans, and all the 
frocks, and all the scandals." 

"Never mind that," said Bulmer, rather roughly, 
and his hands moved as if he would seize her, pro- 
tect her. 

"Why?" she asked, suddenly serious. 

"Stay as you are. Don't be like other people, 
soiled by everything. Just be . . . well, you laughed 
at me when I said that, like warm snow." 

She looked at him intently for a moment, then said : 

"Do you mean to say you're bothering about the 
things they print in the papers? You ought to know 
better, since you print them yourself." 

"I . . . you ..." said Bulmer, wondering whether 
she knew. 

"What do you think I care?" asked Janet. "Per- 
haps you thought I didn't know." 

"No, I didn't. I hoped you didn't." 

She smiled. "Oh, innocent! Do you really think 
that the world is going to let people like you and me 
alone. We're much too interesting. Why, I found 
two copies of the paper as soon as I arrived, sent, 
no doubt, by my dearest friends, with the passage 
marked in blue." 

"Don't," said Bulmer, weakly. The few words 
— he knew them by heart — now set themselves up in 
his brain. They had appeared in a penny weekly, 
among other paragraphs, under the general heading, 
"All About 'Em." It read: 

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*8 A PARAGRAPH °g 

Many are the duties and diversions of great newspaper pro- 
prietors. Such men need rest when they carry every day the 
cares of state. Some find it in the flowing bowl, others at Ascot, 
yet others worship her whom some call Venus. And one, a 
little bird tells me, often deserts his mansion in Mayfair for a 
district not a thousand miles from Baker Street; one, at least, of 
our great newspaper owners must plead "guilty" to the charge 
of dawdling in the Garden of Eden under the tree of knowledge. 
What is that tree? an oak? or can it a willow bef 

Then came a line of stars, under which was printed: 

We hear that Lady Buhner has taken for the summer a house 
in Fifeshire, and that, owing to pressure of business, the well- 
known owner of the Daily Gazette will not accompany her. 

"Damn 'em," he said, suddenly. "I'll kill him. 
Kill him in the right way. I'll buy up that paper 
within a week. I'll drive the man out and dog him 
for the rest of his life. If a paper employs him I'll 
buy it up under his feet and kick him out. If the 
paper won't sell, I'll ruin it. And if the man gets 
out of Fleet Street I'll tempt him until he hangs for 
it. I'U find a way." 

"Please," said Janet, "please don't upset your- 
self like that. Yes, I know it's horrid. The world 
can't bear people to be friends." 

"That this should happen to you!" said Bulmer. 
"It's almost incredible. You!" 

She smiled. "Why shouldn't it happen to me? 
I'm not a goddess." 

"Yes, you are." 

She flushed. "Well, you're my only worshiper. 
But, even so, it doesn't matter. People say things; 
they're always saying things." 

303 



« CALIBAN IB 

"But it does matter," said Bulmer, intensely. 
"It does matter that you should be dragged in the 
mud. And it's all my fault. I suppose that if a 
married man is often seen alone with a woman like 
you, young, beautiful, charming, I suppose . . . 
perhaps I'd better let you alone." She did not 
reply. What could she say? She could not tell him 
to let her alone; she was too uncertain of herself to 
know whether she wanted him to or not. "But I 
can't," he added. "You're the only thing that's 
lovely to me in a beastly world. And I can't even 
sue them for libel. Even if I won, you'd lose." 

She bent so close to him that he saw the various 
colors in her eyes. She whispered: 

"I'm so sorry. I don't mean it to make any dif- 
ference to us, but I'm so sorry it should matter so 
much to you when it matters so little to me." 

"Doesn't it matter to you?" asked Bulmer, stung. 

"Not at all. I am what I am. If people think 
otherwise they think wrong. People used to say 
the sun moved round the earth. It didn't. They 
were wrong, that's all." 

"But," cried Bulmer, a little shocked, "don't you 
care for public opinion?" 

"No, why should I? I don't care what people say 
about me. Indeed, I'm not sure that I don't wish 
they'd say worse; it would give me a chance of 
finding out my true friends." 

"But suppose they said that you and I . . . well, 
some people might think so." 

She met him with a brave, straight look, though 
color ran down her shoulders to the edge of her blouse. 

"I shouldn't care. A thing is or a thing isn't. 

304 



IB A PARAGRAPH °£ 

Besides, why should I be ashamed, whatever I chose 
to do?" She saw his startled look, and added: "I 
have no morals, Lord Bulmer, in the sense of the 
paragraph. I do what I think right. I abstain from 
what I think wrong, and I think that on balance I 
keep rather more commandments than the average 
Christian. " 

"But do you mean . . ." asked Bulmer, still puzzled, 
"that if you . . . that if a man you couldn't marry 
. . . and you cared for him . . .?" 

"Yes, of course/' said Janet. "Why not? If I 
cared for him." 

Bulmer was very shocked, but he clung to his 
established ideas, and rescued himself by saying: 

"Oh, of course, love sanctifies." 

"It does nothing of the kind," said Janet, an ill- 
tempered tone creeping into her voice. "Love 
doesn't sanctify in the way that lysol disinfects. 
Love happens. There's nothing holy about it, or 
unholy." Her irritation passed away, and her voice 
grew soft as she cast down her eyelashes and mur- 
mured: "The only thing in the world. One knows 
that when one hasn't been happy." As if speaking 
to herself, she added, in one of her rare moods of 
self -revelation: "Look at me, married at nineteen, 
a mother at twenty-three, and a widow at twenty- 
four. It isn't long. He wasn't a bad sort. I thought 
I cared for him. I did, in a way . . . until I foimd 
out why he couldn't speak plainly in the evening. 
He hit Jack when he was six months old." 

"Oh!" gasped Bulmer. 

As if she had not heard him, she went on. "I 
oughtn't to have interfered, I suppose. Perhaps it 

305 



*8 CALIBAN *8 

was my fault he hit me, too." In sudden rapture, 
she added: "But that's not the end. It can't be 
the end. There must be something else. I know 
love's the only thing, though I haven't had it yet." 

Unbearably unhappy, and infinitely drawn, Bul- 
mer flung himself upon his knees before her and 
seized her hands. 

" Darling!" he cried, "don't torture me like this. 
Don't you know what you are to me? I've never 
loved anybody, not really. I'm almost frightened 
to touch you, I love you so." 

She looked down at him, her mouth a little twisted 
with uncertainty. 

"Do you really care?" he whispered. "Oh, yes, 
I know it's all very difficult. I'm married and not 
likely to be free — and all the world and its damned 
tongue." 

"It's not that," she said, at last. "I meant what 
I said, but I don't know." 

"Oh, don't send me away," cried Bulmer, sud- 
denly. "Of course you don't know. What am I, 
after all? Forty-four!" He tried to read her then, 
but could not; he was thinking only of his age and 
his condition. So he was surprised when she said: 

"You're a great man; I know that. Only we're 
so different, you and I, in the way we look at 
things." 

"I'll look at them as you do," said Bulmer. "Only 
tell me." 

"I don't know how," she replied, freeing her 
hands. "You smash things. You don't care how 
you do it. But," she added, hastily, "that doesn't 
matter. Only don't press me." 

306 



^ A PARAGRAPH *8 

Pie hesitated for a moment; he was offended by 
this balking of his immediate desire. He was not 
used to that. But he felt gratitude and relief; after 
all, she was not sending him away. He bent down 
and covered her hands with kisses. She did not 
resist, and, as his lips traveled over her wrists and 
into the warm, scented palms of her hands, that 
were soft and yielding as rose flesh, she looked down 
upon his fair head, spattered with gray, and felt 
together, uncertain, repelled, and immensely glad. 
She released one hand, and for a moment let it rest 
on his cheek as she said, "Come and see me to- 
morrow at this time." 

Bulmer got up. His eyes were shining, and a 
flush stood in his cheeks. 

"Janet," he said, "I love you. You make me 
feel like a giant. I must do something. I must go 
out and conquer something.' ' 

She looked at him, smiling, amused and charmed 
by his youthfulness, by the material impulse into 
which his emotion was immediately transmuted. 

The mood of conquest stayed upon him, though 

the weeks passed and nothing definite altered the 

relation. They knew a greater familiarity, a greater 

intimacy, and that was all. So he turned to the 

excitement of a plan which had been in his mind for 

some months. He had been exasperated by the 

purchase of the Times by Lord Northcliffe; he 

should have thought of that. He had considered 

making an offer for the Morning Post, then realized 

that to convert the Morning Post to Liberalism 

would blow off the roof of its office in Aldwych. But 

there was another paper in those days called The 

307 



*g CALIBAN *8 

Da?/, formed only four years after the Times. It had 
a great tradition, for its editor, Charles Goring, had 
dined out as much as Delane. And The Day had 
maintained itself from Whiggery, through Whiggery, 
into Whiggery. In 1914 it advocated destructive 
Conservatism. It had, in a way, a great position. 
It had had a greater one in the 'sixties, but it had 
not gone up with its rivals. As its circulation was 
only thirty thousand, and yielded small profit, it 
spoke for the elite. It was quoted in every foreign 
newspaper. Several times its proprietors had re- 
fused knighthoods and peerages. 

During the century The Day had stayed in the 
hands of the Mortimer family. They were quiet 
people, now buried in Sussex, and ignorant of public 
affairs. They kept their editors until they died. 
When the editors died the assistant editors were 
promoted; it was left to them to find subordinates 
who could succeed them. Thanks to these methods 
the Mortimers had grown poor; The Day did not 
make an annual loss, but contributed only a few 
hundreds a year to their income. They kept up 
the paper as a tradition. So Edward Mortimer (the 
fifth Mortimer, and the third Edward) was surprised 
when, one afternoon, a Rolls-Royce chuffed its way 
up the drive and a rather short, middle-aged man 
in one movement leaped out of the car, slammed 
the door, and waved the chauffeur away. Edward 
Mortimer had heard of Lord Bulmer, but all he knew 
was that he controlled a certain number of news- 
papers — he did not quite know which, for the only 
publications he ever saw were The Day, the Spectator, 
and, in a faintly jealous spirit, the Times. Bulmer 

308 



*$ A PARAGRAPH 'g 

glanced at the drawing-room, at the rich damask 
curtains, very shabby, at the row of silver cups 
won during the century by various Mortimers, at 
the framed picture of a Mortimer in a pith hel- 
met sitting on an elephant, at the horrible collec- 
tion of Indian brasses. He thought, "Not very 
flush," and said, "Mr. Mortimer, I want to buy 
The Day.' 1 

Edward Mortimer's mouth fell open. He felt 
exactly as the Dean might have felt if Buhner had 
asked him how much he wanted for St. Paul's. "I 
don't understand," said Mortimer. 

"My name's Lord Buhner. I own newspapers, 
but you know all about that. And I want to buy 
The Day from you. I want to own it and I'm ready 
to pay a good price for it." 

Quite impossible," said Mortimer. 
Oh, no, nothing's impossible. Mr. Mortimer, 
you're a business man. I'll make you a business 
proposition. The Day doesn't pay; that's because 
in the way it's being run it's more like The Yesterday. 
And it doesn't pay." 

"I'm afraid," said Mr. Mortimer, rising, "that 
all this is purely a private matter." 

"Quite," said Bulmer, remaining seated. "To 
put the matter clearly, I've made a few inquiries. 
I understand that The Day has brought you in during 
the last three years an average of six hundred and 
eighty-six pounds a year. This half-year, I'm told, 
will be a little better." 

"May I ask, Lord Bulmer, how you know all this? 
Have you spies in my office?" 

"Yes, lots. I have some in every office, and my 

309 






H CALIBAN TB 

rivals have some in mine. Business, Mr. Mortimer, 
of course you understand." 

"I'm afraid not," said Mr. Mortimer. 

"No, but perhaps you'll understand me when I 
say that if you will sell me The Day, under certain 
conditions of secrecy, I will pay you a hundred 
thousand pounds for it." 

Mr. Mortimer sat down suddenly. He had not 
expected that. His brain, unaccustomed to figures, 
wondered whether a hundred thousand pounds at 
5 per cent, brought in five thousand a year or fifty 
thousand a year. Anyhow it was something terrific. 
He needed a new gun badly; Holland & Holland 
wanted forty pounds for it. Bulmer was still talk- 
ing, and though Mortimer after a while tried to gain 
a little time — for reasons which he could not explain 
— he gave in. All through the day he was worried 
with this idea that he ought to have had time to 
think about it; an instinct told him that he ought 
to have time. As if a century had not been enough 
for his family. 

Mr. Mortimer, still old-maidish and protesting, 
was taken up to town in the Rolls-Royce, introduced 
to a solicitor whom he didn't know, and went out, 
his pocket buttoned over a check for a hundred 
thousand pounds. He accompanied Bulmer, who, 
not wanting the news to get out, kept him company 
until the evening. During dinner he horrified him 
with a description of what he was going to do to 
The Day. At half past nine the wretched Mr. Mor- 
timer introduced to the editor of The Day his new 
proprietor, who exhibited the deed, and informed 
him that he would retain his services provided not 

310 



H A PARAGRAPH *g 

a whisper of the change of proprietorship got into 
the other papers. 

"Now," said Buhner, "I want you to put this in." 
He produced from a suitcase a parcel about two feet 
square. "There's plenty of time to cut out the 
leader page and shift it somewhere else." 

"Where?" asked the editor. 

"Anywhere. To-morrow morning nobody will 
bother about the leaders in The Day. People'll only 
look at this. Nobody knows about it. I've been care- 
ful. It's one of our own blocks; I had it enlarged 
by the Bristol Gazette. The final photo-block was 
made by a small printer who thinks I'm a lunatic, 
and doesn't know me." The three men stared for 
a minute at the block. It represented Lord Buhner, 
and was twenty-one inches by sixteen. 

"Just put that in," said Buhner, "on the leader 
page. It'll just fill it. Don't say anything in the 
paper about the change of proprietorship. Just 
print under my portrait, 'The Right Honorable 
Lord Buhner.' The public'U do the rest." 

When, next day, Buhner went to Janet and showed 
her the issue of The Day, which she had not seen, she 
looked at him with large, doubtful eyes. "It's very 
dramatic," she said, "but ..." 

"But what?" 

"I don't know." He caught her hand, but she 
wriggled her ringers free. "I don't know. Such a 
big picture. It's you. It's like you, of course." 

"The picture? Of course it's like me." 

"No, not that. Oh, I can't explain. It's your 
way of doing things." 

He understood her vaguely and said: "You 

21 311 



*g CALIBAN ]8? 

mean it's rather blatant? Well, of course; it's a 
blatant world, you know. If Mohammed were to 
come back to earth and ride from Medina to Mecca, 
he wouldn't get his full effect unless the Daily 
Gazette had him timed and filmed whenever he 
changed donkeys.' ' 

"I suppose you're right," she said, wearily. Then 
she smiled at him, and when again he bent to kiss 
her hand he murmured: 

"I wanted to do something big for you." She 
felt pitiful tolerance and tenderness mingled with a 
little fear. He was like a triumphant child that 
stands upon a sand castle surrounded already by 
the incoming tide. 



Chapter IV 
War 

IT was typical of Bulmer that he did not realize 
the war until it happened. Following on the as- 
sassination of the Archduke he had noticed some 
rumors of unrest in the Balkans. But then, there 
always was unrest in the Balkans. The Daily Gazette 
had a correspondent in Belgrade, but his matter was 
seldom interesting. No good had come out of Serbia, 
from Buhner's point of view, since the murder of 
the King and Queen, and the moral scandals con- 
nected with it. It took him a fortnight to grow 
disturbed, though the shortage of gold impressed 
him. But it was not until the 20th of July, 
when it grew obvious that Austria wanted war, that 
he realized war could break out. And even then, 
saturated with Liberal tradition, he looked upon a 
continental war as nothing more than an imperialist 
scare. Then he was seized with panic, and printed 
an article headed "War, and Those Who Want It." 
In reality he was hesitating. He objected to war, 
not on principle, but because it did not suit him. 
This war was playing up to the Morning Post & 
Co. It was poaching on the peace preserves of the 
Daily Gazette. But events rushed his position, 
as the mobilizations piled up he realized that Eng- 
land might be in for it. 

313 



*8 CALIBAN ^ 

He was very thoughtful in these days, and Janet 
annoyed him because she was absolutely against 
war. 

"What's the good of your being against war?" 
he asked, acidly, "if it's going to happen? If a 
thing happens one might as well back it up as not." 

They parted coldly that day. Janet knew him 
well enough to expect from him no stand on prin- 
ciple, and though he attracted her she would have 
preferred him to attract her in another way. Bul- 
mer vaguely realized this, for he did not come to 
see her again until after the declaration of war. An 
instinct bade him hide from her that his hesitation 
had continued until the last hour, and that, on the 
Sunday afternoon, not knowing for certain what the 
government was going to do, he had ready two 
leaders. One was headed, "Our Word Is Not a 
Scrap of Paper," and demanded war; the other was 
headed, "Don't Be Fooled," and was filled with 
strong pacifist sentiment and references to Anglo- 
German historic ties. He was informed of the ulti- 
matum only just in time, while he was at dinner. 
If the information had not come through it is prob- 
able that, following the party tradition, he would 
have come out pacifist. But, fortunately, he was 
warned, and so next morning his political bread 
and butter fell right side up. It was agony, in a 
way, for during the whole week he had been through 
his ordinary route in continual touch with the Cabi- 
net. But he oscillated, for one moment sided with 
Lord Morley and Mr. John Burns; then swung over 
to the virulence of Mr. Churchill. Bulmer's true 

agony lay in the fact that he could not follow the 

314 



*8? WAR « 

middle party of Mr. Asquith and Sir Edward Grey; 

he could side only with excess. But, when war 

broke out, a sudden ease came over him. He was 

enormously excited. Things were going to happen. 

One didn't know what things, but never mind. He 

did not sleep through the Monday night; he spent 

febrile hours at the Daily Gazette office or rushed 

in his car about the wakeful town; the processions 

and the cheers made him drunk. Through the next 

day, too, he was in the grasp of drama, filled with a 

sense of incredible forces unleashed and launched at 

one another; he was as a valkyr in a storm, mingling 

his laughter with the thunder-peals, and dazzling 

his eyes with Hghtning. He rushed into Janet's 

flat, and his eyes were so feverish, there was such 

rapture in his parted lips, that for a moment he 

terrified Janet and delighted her. He seemed big. 

"Isn't it splendid!" he cried, hoarsely. "Isn't it 

wonderful!" and for the first time seized her in his 

arms. He crushed her to him, and, bending back 

her head, kissed the cool lips. He was wild, he was 

conquering, and for some seconds so distraught was 

she, too, so broken by what she thought catastrophe, 

that she did not resist him. Such weariness fell on 

her that indeed she came closer to him, suffering 

caresses she did not expect. It was as if she felt 

alone in a hostile world and was glad to be ground 

and beaten through her own body as well as through 

her thoughts. Still holding her, he raised his head 

and looked into the emptiness, talked for a long 

time. His brain was fumous; his speech was a 

lyrical song of slaughter. In mangled sentences he 

expressed ideas new-born, aspiration to honor for 

315 



TB CALIBAN °g 

his country that was actually an aspiration to deeds. 
He grew breathless, his mouth was dry. He was in 
the grasp of an epic poem. But, at last, holding 
her so, limp and abandoned, she grew more personal 
to him. At first it had been as if he grasped heroic 
mankind, but now he was conscious of her softness, 
of her surrender to him. He felt still upon his lips 
the sweetness of her mouth, and a suavity arose from 
the piled brown hair, the soft cheeks. A languid 
grace that fired him came from the long, warm body, 
held close in his arms. 

"Oh, it's good to have you on such a day. It 
makes one triumphant. England's triumphant. 
I'm triumphant." Holding her close, he pressed 
upon her lips kisses that frightened her, so dominant 
were they. But he held her so tight that she could 
only struggle. His voice sank to whispers as he pro- 
tested his love for her. 

" Don't," she said, weakly. He was a war god. 
He drew her and he sickened her. 

But, as if he had not heard, he held her, hoarsely 
murmuring, in this universal dissolution, warring 
against her impulse to refuse herself. 

"No, no," she cried, this time with a note of terror 
in her voice. And as suddenly he grew rough and 
silent, as she grew conscious that in a moment his 
growing excitement would sweep away all the re- 
spect that had held him back, that the times were 
times of tragedy, when naught save respect is evil, 
her instinctive fastidiousness asserted itself. So, in 
silence, muscle against muscle, teeth clenched, they 
fought each other, hard-breathing, giving forth the 

muffled cries of effort. 

316 



yS WAR *8 

"Let me go," said Janet, a snarl in her voice. 
She clutched at her hair that was loosening, and 
pressed her other hand against his chin, bending 
him back as an arc. 

" Janet . . . you're mine." Still she struggled, 
throwing all her weight against his throat. Sud- 
denly they fell apart, in full reaction. In their 
weakness shame crept on both. They looked at 
each other for a moment, still breathing fast. Tremu- 
lously he watched her pick up her combs from the 
sofa, and he observed the flush of anger on her 
cheeks. 

"I'm sorry," he said at last. 

She had her back to him then, and, as she turned, 
there was in her face such contempt, such anger, as 
if she hated him for having thought that war could 
gain for him a victory that love had not yet granted. 
But when she said, " Go away," he turned, and went 
ivery fast, as if he feared she might do him an injury. 

Bulmer did not long have time to dwell upon this 

sudden and awful emptiness. His separation from 

Janet — for she went to the country the next day, 

and did not answer his letters — told him that he had 

not been mistaken, that at last he had found love, 

only to lose it. For some days the agony of his loss 

would not leave him. He made school-boy plans. 

He would discover her, go to her, wait at her door 

till she came out, abase himself in the dust, and so 

stay until in forgiveness she raised him up. But 

she had left no address, as if she had determined for 

a time to cut out of her life the period he had filled. 

One day he thought, " Suppose she never came back 

again?" He tried to believe that this was a ridicu- 

317 



J! CALIBAN *« 

lous idea, but, still, who could say? He tried to imag- 
ine life without the hope of her. Then he told him- 
self, quietly, "If she doesn't come back, I'll shoot 
myself." It was not despair drove him, but rather 
the sense of emptiness. He would take his life, not 
through grief, but through lack of incentive to live. 

But the times were not propitious to unrequited 
love. Notably, he had to follow a policy so difficult 
that it took all his energy. He had to support the 
war in the government sense; to help to win it, but 
not to win it too much. He had to range himself 
on the side of the combat, and yet satisfy his Liberal 
and Nonconformist public, who came into the war 
as sulky school-boys to school. Also, he had to be 
careful not to agree with Northcliffe, and as he act- 
ually did agree, it became a whole-time occupation 
to find means to quarrel with the Daily Mail. 

"We've got to pitch into them," he said to Alford, 
desperately. "That's what we're for. If we stop 
hitting people the public'll think we've lost our 
guts." 

It was very difficult, for the Daily Gazette mind 
demanded that he should immediately press for a 
strict blockade, the expansion of the air service, and 
conscription. He managed to attack the Daily Mail 
on the subject of Lord Kitchener. Unfortunately 
he had no other candidate, in spite of his fondness 
for Marshal French. But French was hardly a popu- 
lar figure, and so, grudgingly, Bulmer had to follow 
the Daily Mail. And he was in acute difficulties with 
the government ; his rapid evolution from Liberalism 
into a sort of warlike Radicalism was swifter than 
theirs. He found them obstructive; they wouldn't 

318 



*g WAR ^ 

tell him things. When Bujmer was refused informa- 
tion he invariably became dangerous. He did not 
necessarily want to publish, but he wanted to know. 
It was this, no doubt, caused him the day after 
Mons to print an article signed by himself, sur- 
mounted by a head-line which went right across the 
page, and reading : 

THIS GOVERNMENT WANTS MORE ZIP 

It was just like the old days, and as the memory 
of his parting with Janet grew less painful, as he 
was able to hope more because no greater evil fol- 
lowed, a youthful joy invaded Buhner. He began 
to give the government zip. He enjoyed even the 
government's anger. When the ordinary route 
called at Shoe Lane and told him that he heard that 
the government was much annoyed Buhner merely 
replied : 

"I can't help it; they won't do what I tell 'em. 
I've no use for a disobedient Prime Minister. Look 
at this conscription business! The mugs have missed 
their chance. They could have had conscription on 
the fourth of August for the price of sticking a 
proclamation outside the Royal Exchange. Now 
the country's had time to get cool, and, mark my 
words, it'll be two years before the government 
hots 'em up again. The men'll have to be whipped 
with scorpions before they come in, and it'll be a 
pretty lesson to those shufflers in Downing Street 
who think they're going to entice five million men 
into the army by trailing down Oxford Street a tin 
of bully beef tied to a string. But I'll show 'em." 

319 



« CALIBAN ^ 

He did. On the 26th of August he was able to 
announce in all the Daily Gazettes that he had dis- 
missed every man under thirty-eight. It was a coup, 
and Bulmer did not hesitate to urge every employer 
to dismiss all men under this age. He countered 
the Mons angels, and the pathos of Mr. Harold 
Begbie ("I wasn't among the first to go, but I went, 
thank God, I went!"), by a flaming appeal to the 
graybeards of England, and the offer of a prize of 
five thousand pounds to the firm who dismissed, 
within one month, the highest proportion of men of 
military age. 

He was happy, in a way. He enjoyed even Eng- 
land's agony; he enjoyed the retreat from Mons, 
though it filled him with fear, and though he stood 
for a time on the Embankment on the Sunday after- 
noon, holding in frozen horror the afternoon editions 
of the Observer and the Times. ".Can the British 
army be saved?" he murmured, and vaguely felt 
that it would be dramatic if it could not be saved. 
Then, at the office, somebody told him of the Retreat 
of the Ten Thousand, and he forgot the drama in 
violent efforts to get through on the telephone to a 
professor of Greek, at Oxford, who was to write for 
next day a parallel between Xenophon leading his 
soldiers from the Tigris and Marshal French making 
for Le Cateau. 

Also, he continued to press for conscription. Peo- 
ple told him that there was no equipment, that if 
the men came in they couldn't be housed, that there 
were no tents in France. Bulmer did not care; he 
hated details. Having begun to cry out, he could 
not stop. His policy amounted to hiccups. Also, 

320 



*g WAR *8 

he was at a low point of mental balance. He was 
fighting the Northcliffe press on the internment of 
enemies, and was clamoring for deportations. The 
Liberal strain of humanitarianism forced itself into 
this policy, but Buhner could not breathe on these 
high levels ; almost at once, he converted the human- 
itarianism into a campaign of placards and cartoons. 
He began by asking for fair treatment of enemy 
aliens who had done no harm; he ended by a mock 
article by a British convict, protesting against intern- 
ment on the plea that the Hun would foul our loyal 
jails. 

Also, he maintained his campaign for the exten- 
sion of the air service, and put up a five-thousand- 
pound prize for the firm who built a fleet of one 
hundred airplanes in the quickest time. Day by 
day the entries were published, and, with splendid 
audacity, the Daily Gazette accepted the entry of a 
German firm located in Holland. As he put it in 
the leaderette which flaunted this fact, " We'll take 
our 'planes from the devil himself; it's to fight the 
devil that we w r ant them." 

Perhaps because his hardness reacted against the 
sentimentality with which the Belgian refugees were 
received, he set up a demand for forced labor for 
the Belgians, and enjoyed the shocked anger with 
which this proposal was received. Then he tried 
to find something else; he wanted to do something 
more; anything, provided it was more. It was 
agony to him to be in England then, in an England 
good-tempered and sleepy, failing to hate properly, 
and practising " business as usual." At forty-four 
he could not take a commission, so he precipitated 

321 



*g CALIBAN T$ 

himself into France, and drove the Rolls-Royce up 
and down behind the front, talking to people, who 
at once realized that he must be a lunatic or an Eng- 
lishman. Everything was slow, even the war; the 
only satisfaction was the great fleet of Daily Gazette 
ambulances which he had presented and himself 
shipped three days after the declaration. He came 
across a countess, and for some days conducted with 
her an unsatisfactory intrigue. He packed her in 
the car among the growing heaps of telegrams and 
reports, tinned provisions, and thermos flasks. Their 
emotional intercourse occupied hectic moments be- 
tween telegrams, telephone calls, and interviews at 
G. H. Q. with polite subalterns who thought her 
pretty and him bad form. Then, one morning, the 
French removed the countess from the car, tried her 
as a spy in the afternoon, and shot her next morning. 
Buhner was advised to go home, as his passport was 
no longer valid. 

The affair made no noise, but fearing that sus- 
picion might unjustly fall upon him, Bulmer was 
driven into a greater bellicose fury. If they thought 
him shaky, he'd show 'em. His only fear was that 
Janet would be told, and, in his despair, he sent to 
the flat a long letter full of self-reproach and self- 
abasement. He felt that be could not explain how 
much he loved and needed her, and that it was she 
had driven him, in his loneliness, in his agony, to 
such a companionship. But this letter, too, re- 
mained unanswered. 



Chapter V 
The Furies 

SOMETIMES, between preoccupations, Buhner 
thought, "Am I forgetting her?" Five months 
had elapsed, and no letters had passed between him 
and Janet. Often he would throw himself back in 
his chair and call up her features. At first this was 
a day-dream, full of exquisite melancholy. Then 
it grew dimmer. A little of the vividness fled from 
the cheeks of the wraith, and he was less assured of 
the shapely hands which he had held. He found his 
memory less ardent when he remembered that he 
had pressed her lips. Only the gray-green eyes re- 
mained eloquent, mocking, sorrowful. 

He wondered what would happen when they met 
again; for of course they would meet again. She 
would not always stay in the country. And when 
she came back? He played the drama of their con- 
versation. She would say, "How do you do, Lord 
Buhner?" Then, after a pause, "What a pity it's 
so hot" — or wet. Or something equally distant. 
But, though he was thus ready for her, the actual 
meeting came upon him as a shock. It happened 
at a lunch-party, where he arrived a little late. He 
sat down to find himself meeting her eyes across the 
table. At once he knew that he was afraid. If only 
he could have spoken to her, heard her say that it 

323 



*g CALIBAN ** 

was (as it happened) very cold, then he would have 
known what she felt for him. But now he must 
face her for an hour after exchanging pallid smiles 
of recognition. He watched her through lunch. She 
seemed more lovely because she was more strange. 
Cheerful, too; and a little thrill of hatred ran 
through him because she laughed very often when 
her neighbor, a young naval officer, said things in 
an undertone. He wondered whether they were 
laughing at him. People did, he knew. So, in the 
drawing-room, he was ready to be curt, and as he 
came near did not know whether he wanted to 
bend his knee before her or say something rude. It 
was she spoke, in the cool, high voice that to him 
was song. 

"How do you do?" she said. Then, "I suppose 
the war's keeping you very busy?" 

His heart softened. After all, she was being per- 
sonal, and, in a rush of emotion, instead of answering 
her, he said, in a whisper: 

"I'm glad to see you again. It's been hell, hell." 

She did not reply for a moment, but flushed. She 
did not know what to say, not only because she felt 
he was telling the truth, but because she was in- 
credibly sorry for him. It was something else 
troubled her, a sudden pang. She told herself, "He 
mustn't be hurt." And, as she noticed that he was 
much thinner and that his eyes burned, she asked 
herself, with a little fear, whether indeed she loved 
him, this gross child, this vulgarian who might have 
genius; whether he was melting in the crucible of his 
love the lustrous pearl of her coldness. 

"Hell! hell!" he said again. Janet clutched her 

324 



*8 THE FURIES ]S 

hands together. She must answer him. But she 
hated outward emotion. Though, in that moment, 
she wanted to cry out, "Well, then, come back if 
that's heaven." Instead, she said, lightly: 

"How you exaggerate . . . Dick." His eyes grew 
so soft and humble as she spoke his name that she 
added: "You can take me home in the car if you 
like. No, not yet. Decency forbids that one should 
leave a lunch-party before three." 

In her flat, a little later, they arrived at vague 
understandings. She stopped him when he begged 
her forgiveness. 

"No, don't talk about it, that's all over. Talk 
of something else, as you used to. What are you 
doing for the war? How long is it going to last?" 

"Four or five years," said Bulmer, obediently. 
"There's more kick in the Hun than we bargained 
for. He nearly licked us at Ypres the other day; 
nearly went clean through. Oh, I know it didn't 
get into the papers, not even into the Daily Gazette. 
But I know. I've seen a wire from the commander 
of the Eighth Jaegers to the Great H. Q., saying: 
'Think it unwise advance farther. British yielding 
so rapidly that trap certain. Are we to advance 
against obvious curtain of machine-guns?' The 
reply clearly told them not to advance. The Ger- 
mans couldn't believe we were such damn fools as 
to go into this war armed with fountain-pen fillers 
and tin-openers." 

"Is it really as bad as that?" asked Janet. 

"Worse, I expect. Even I don't know every- 
thing. But it won't last, I tell you, it won't last. 
There's going to be a change in this country. We've 

325 



e & 



H CALIBAN _* 

got the wrong men at the head. The honorable 
Johnnie at the F. O., and Colonel Blownin in the 
War Office. They won't last. This isn't the Hun- 
dred Years' War; it's a business war, and it needs 
business men. It ought to be run by Joseph Lyons 
and Selfridge's. I'll show 'em." 

"What will you show 'em?" asked Janet, smiling 
at his old intensity. 

"The Daily Gazette is going to put m quite another 
sort of men, people who know something about 
shipping into the Admiralty instead of people who 
know something about etchings. I'm going to put 
in the right people — railway men, bankers, factory- 
managers, people with some drive, people with some 
zip." 

"Dick," she said, laughing fondly at this baby 
building empires as a house of cards, "you're in- 
corrigible." 

He did not notice her fondness. He was too in- 
tent. He went on: "The country's rotten to the 
core. It's betrayed from the top. Immingham! 
I know things about Lord Immingham which ought 
to get him hanged. Do you know why we've no 
machine-guns, with French howling and screaming 
for machine-guns? Because Lord Immingham doesn't 
believe in 'em. He says that Waterloo was won 
with rifles. Good God! I wish he'd been at Water- 
loo, but I'll show 'em. I'm only just waiting for 
Lord Immingham." 

"Surely," said Janet, seriously, "you wouldn't 
dare to attack the man who ..." 

"Yes, I know. I shouldn't care if he'd won so 
many battles that he'd doubled the Empire. For 

326 



•g THE FURIES *» 

I tell you that the general who doubles the Empire 
yesterday will halve it to-morrow. And as for dare! 
Don't you dare me! I'm glad he's a big one; he'll 
make a bigger bang when he comes down." She 
did not know what to say. He frightened and ex- 
cited her. Indeed, he would dare. She wondered 
what would happen if one day he thought that the 
King would make a big bang if he came down. 
With a man like that you couldn't tell. But his 
intensity disturbed her; it was so racking; so she 
stopped him, and was flattered to find that he 
obeyed her emotional call just as he had obeyed the 
intellectual. She said : 

"Dick, you must go now. I've got a tea-party 
coming on in a few minutes; all women. You 
wouldn't like that." 

She gave him her hand, and, after a hesitation, he 
laid upon her fingers tremulous kisses. As he went 
down the stairs he thought, "It's all right; as if 
nothing had happened." He did not wonder why 
Janet had forgiven him, did not even ask himself 
whether she had come to love him. That night 
came later, and the present sufficed to the present. 
All he knew was that he felt strong and victorious; 
half an hour later, when he called Alford, Benson, 
and Singleton into conference, he was vigorous and 
assured. 

"Listen," he said. "I want you to prepare the 
ground about . . . machine-guns. I can't tell you 
yet what's going to be done about them. Just now 
I want you, Benson, to get hold of the facts; what 
was the establishment of machine-guns before the 
war in England and in Germany. How many we 

22 327 



"8 CALIBAN *g 

ordered in July, '14; how many ordered since; how 
many delivered per month. And, Singleton, you 
might tackle the inspection side, see how many have 
been passed and how many rejected. Might raise 
a stink against the Enfield Small Arms factory. And, 
I think, Alford, you might start gently with leader- 
ettes, talking about machine-guns. We want to 
create an atmosphere of suspicion, you know. The 
usual gathering storm. Don't say anything, but 
go on hinting. And when we're ready then it's up 
Jenkins with . . . but I'll tell you later." 

The office was rather excited until March. When 
the Boss hid facts they must indeed be frightful. 
Day by day he led the Gazette, beginning gently with 
references to the value of the machine-gun; he 
passed on to the advantage it gave the Germans; 
then by degrees came shocking stories of massa- 
cres of British battalions by two machine-guns and 
half a dozen German gunners. He saw with pleas- 
ure that public opinion was disturbed. A question 
was asked in the House and met as usual with the 
reply that a statement would be against the public 
interest. When the matter began to be raised in 
his presence at lunch-parties, and when at last a 
meeting was called by the young Tories to appoint 
a deputation to see the Premier, Buhner realized 
that he must strike. He did so with dramatic swift- 
ness. He did not tell his staff until only a few min- 
utes were left to spare. They were frightened, but 
nobody resisted, and next morning the head-line and 
the placards said all over England: 

LORD IMMINGHAM MUST GO! 
328 



•8? THE FURIES *8? 

The sensation was immediate, and a cry of fury 
arose. The next day brought letters from seven 
thousand subscribers of the Daily Gazette to cancel 
their subscriptions, but it also brought an access 
of circulation of two hundred and ten thousand, 
which, subject to swaying fortune, ended by almost 
maintaining itself. The only person who seemed 
unmoved was Lord Immingham People hardly 
dared talk to him about it. When at last two old 
comrades ventured to sympathize Immingham 
quietly took a cigar from his case, bit off the end, 
and spat it into the fireplace. He did nothing more 
to the end of the agitation. But the Cabinet felt 
less secure; Buhner terrified them; if he attacked 
Immingham he would not hesitate to attack them, 
and, as the war was not going very well, they couldn't 
risk it. The rest is commonplace history, and week 
by week Buhner recorded with exultation the in- 
crease in the supply of machine-guns. He was 
honestly glad for his country's sake. He desperately 
wanted those guns, pregnant with victory, but he 
also enjoyed his power, and it was in all sincerity 
that, six months later, he headed a leaderette, 
" Alone I Did It." He had enjoyed himself entirely, 
and he had never been afraid. Once Janet asked 
him whether he did not realize that he might have 
been prosecuted under D. O. R. A. Bulmer laughed 
and said: 

" Jailing me would have been a noisy affair." 

But his mood with Janet now was less and less 

easy; between violent attempts at caresses which 

she half repelled interposed his growing excitement. 

Sometimes he would not sit down, but for half an 

329 



jg CALIBAN *5? 

hour at a time paced about the drawing-room, his 
voice husky and his eyes injected, smelling danger, 
spitting defiance. The shortage of machine-guns 
led him to think that all other perils were equally 
neglected. He was still clamoring for the deporta- 
tion of aliens, demanding that policemen should have 
power to stop anybody in the street and make them 
say " thief"; any man who slurred the "th" to sail 
for Holland. Often he ended in incoherence. 

"Government! Dutch barbers! . . . Dutch spies! 
Spies ! The blockade is a sieve, a damn sieve. We're 
feeding the Germans! Feeding 'em. And there are 
some find their profit in it. They're trading with 
the enemy, drawing in German gold. German gold is 
being poured over the country! A man with a for- 
eign accent called to see me, and missed me the day 
before. There you are! What could he want?" 

"But they couldn't bribe you," said Janet. 

He did not listen. In his red dream no island of 
sweet reason emerged. He was so excited that she 
led him to Primrose Hill to compel him to take the 
air, to try to quiet him. But he shook his fist at 
London in her sleepy hollow; to him London stank 
with corruption only less evilly than with slackness. 
He gripped Janet's hand carelessly. He did not 
know how close to him she was that day, so stricken 
was she by fear for his sanity. 

Indeed, he was now but half responsible. He was 
ready to attack or defend without investigation, and 
in this nervous state any avenue seemed safe, any 
man might prove a savior. It was thus that he 
made Mr. Digby, a steel manufacturer and member 
for a northern constituency. He met Digby at a 

330 



% THE FURIES % 

banquet and was impressed, not only by his quiet 
ferocity, by his passion for excess, but by a trick of 
speech. Whenever Digby made a statement he 
added, " That's number one." To the next state- 
ment he added, " That's number two." He went 
on, "The conclusion is this, and that's number 
three." Buhner immediately grew enthusiastic over 
this logical business man and proclaimed him "The 
Man." Having declared him "The Man," he forced 
Digby into swift popularity. He sent "The Man" 
to address meetings at Albert Hall; he reported him 
in extenso. He cartooned him, jackbooted, and kick- 
ing out Mr. Asquith. Then Mr. Digby was given 
an office, created for the purpose of keeping Buhner 
quiet, and within a few weeks became ignoble. 
Being in power he could do no good. One morning 
five trawlers were sunk outside Dover, and "The 
Man" became "The Worm." Bulmer slew him 
by means of leaders in The Day and cartoons in the 
Gazette. Then he sought another man. This set- 
ting up and pulling down of men was, in Bulmer, 
half hysteria, half caprice. He was entirely success- 
ful, but he was at the mercy of impression. Thus, 
as soon as he had a new impression, he needed a 
new man. And when "The Man" ceased to be 
1 * The Man ' ' he never forgave him. There was about 
Bulmer a good deal of Warwick the King-maker, 
and nothing of General Monk. His newspapers were 
sensational because he was sensational. When he 
led them they excited him and made him more 
sensational. Now he was coursing the town in a 
Rolls-Royce that was never fast enough, to the echo 
of the yells of his newsboys, who terrified him with 

331 






^ CALIBAN *g 

his own news. During that time Janet so pitied him 
that she thought she loved him. For she had dis- 
covered in him a constructive strain. One day he 
said to her : 

"When this war's done there's going to be a dif- 
ferent England. I wish I had the building of it." 

How would you build it?" 

No more small farms and small holdings, but 
great grain farms with cornfields twenty miles long, 
and electric plows to make the furrows. In the 
middle of the farm a model village with bathrooms, 
electric light, telephones; local clubs, local theaters, 
local libraries, local dancing-halls, swimming baths, 
hot and cold; and everybody would have their place 
in it. Uniform, if possible, the laborers to be pri- 
vates, the foremen sergeants, the managers to have 
commissions. Railways with slip coaches to drop 
the produce at every small town, or, better, a mov- 
ing carpet all round England that'd never stop at 
all. Send your letters by airplane. And lay out your 
towns properly. Cut all the streets at right angles 
and call them by their numbers. Have a store every 
five hundred yards exactly, and a public-house every 
half-mile. Order; we want order. We want the 
shop at the corner to be the tailor, the next the 
butcher, the next the grocer, the next the barber, 
and so on. All over the town, all over the country, 
all over the world. Same language in London and 
Abyssinia. Same sort of shirt along the same lati- 
tude. Food to be regulated according to tempera- 
ture. No more coal, no more gas. Make every- 
thing electric. No more washing up ; press a button 
and scald. No more washing floors, but make 'em 

332 



°Q1 



jB THE FURIES K 

of vulcanized cardboard and peel off a sheet when 
it's dirty. And no more of those fanciful local varia- 
tions. I'm for democracy, I am. Divide Africa and 
Asia into County Councils. And those into Borough 
Councils, and so on. Janet, there'll come a day 
when, at the same time, the same lesson, in the same 
language, will be dictated to every child in every 
class in the whole world; little boys in New York 
and little niggers in the Cameroons. Of course," he 
added, regretfully, " they'd still be black and white. 
Still, one might alter the marriage law. One might 
average up." 

She smiled. She did not know that he could 
conceive Utopia. 



Chapter VI 
Lord Immingham 

" T MUST go," said Bulmer. Then, after a pause, 

1 as if this slightly flattered him, "I'm going to 
see Lord Irnmingham." 

"Oh," said Janet, "that'll be interesting." 

"Yes." Then, hurriedly, so that she might not 
discern a certain nervousness in his voice: "If they 
think they're going to bully me they'll find out 
they're mistaken. I'll show 'em. Immingham! Old 
elastic-sided jackboot ! I'll tweak his nose, tweak it." 

Janet smiled. She liked him when thus in ebulli- 
tion. She understood that some disagreement must 
lie between Bulmer and Lord Immingham. So she 
said, lightly: 

"Well, I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself. I suppose 
he wants to scold you?" 

"Scold me!" said Bulmer, opening the door. 
"We'll see about that. Of course I know he's 
tough in his way. Not like going to see other people, 
like Churchill, blinded with his own limelight. I'm 
rather surprised they didn't turn the Premier on to 
me. He settles strikes, he smacks the faces of the 
Lords, he busts up the land system, he's the maid of 
all dirty work. Still ... I'll tell you all about it 
to-morrow." 

In fact, Bulmer did not give Janet complete de- 

334 



% LORD IMMINGHAM *8 

tails of his interview, because it was not entirely 
satisfactory. It had an inconclusive quality. At 
six o'clock, after waiting less than a minute, he was 
shown into a large room where, behind a shabby 
desk, sat a solidly built man with a long body , who, 
seated, seemed tall. The unsmiling figure shook his 
hand without rising, and, looking elsewhere, indi- 
cated a seat. Then Lord Immingham fastened upon 
him a fishy stare. Buhner had heard of this charac- 
teristic, and met his eyes with a hostile glitter. He 
thought: "You want to stare me down, do you? 
Well, we'll see." And so for a moment they faced 
each other. Seconds passed, and Bulmer grew con- 
scious that the effort was greater than he had ex- 
pected. The soldier was looking at him, neither in- 
viting him to speak nor as if meditating over him, 
nor as if he disliked him. He looked at him as if 
he were not looking at him. It was irritating, and 
Buhner found his lips twitching with the words he 
wanted to utter. But he held himself down, and 
still Lord Immingham stared at him as if he had all 
eternity before him. Bulmer did not move, and at 
last scored, for Lord Immingham, in a tired way, 
remarked : 

"This sort of thing. You know. Can't go on. 
Damn nuisance." 

"What sort of thing do you refer to?" asked Bul- 
mer, with elaborate politeness. As Lord Immingham 
did not reply, he forgot how he should handle him, 
and burst out, "If you mean that you dislike refer- 
ences to yourself and your policy in the papers, well, 
I'll tell you at once that my papers can't be bought 
and my papers can't be bullied." 

335 



^ CALIBAN 'S? 

Lord Immingham gave no indication that this 
was what he meant, so Buhner, very uncomfortable, 
went on: 

"Of course I know perfectly well that government 
departments don't want unfavorable news printed 
until they're so stale that nobody wants to read 'em. 
I suppose you want to impose a censorship. Well, 
you've got one; you've got the Press Bureau." As 
Lord Immingham said nothing, Bulmer grew un- 
wise, and added, truculently: "The Press Bureau! 
I wipe my boots on it." 

After a moment Lord Immingham, as if he wanted 
to save time, said: 

"Your papers get in the way. That machine-gun 
business, for instance." 

"Oh," said Bulmer, "I thought as much. Well, 
Lord Immingham, you won't deny we were very 
short of machine-guns, and that if I hadn't been 
there to ginger up the country we'd be short of 'em 
still. It's the business of the papers to keep the 
government up to date and to keep things humming, 
while the government's job is to keep out of date and 
to keep comfortable." 

"I know all about that," said Immingham. "Not 
3^our job at all. Your job's to get advertisements 
for your papers and make money." 

Upon this Bulmer lost his temper. He felt him- 
self in the presence of a man to whom the press 
represented a trade and not a sacerdoce. For some 
time he lectured Lord Immingham on the value of 
the press, its educational powers, its capacity for 
banding men together in the pursuit of a common 
cause. All through, Lord Immingham stared at 

336 



*g LORD IMMINGHAM *$ 

him as if thinking of something else. Then he 
said: 

"We don't want the press. Makes talk. Coun- 
try's all talk." 

"Talk molds the world," said Buhner, "and I 
tell you, Lord Immingham, that if I have too much 
nonsense from this government I won't advertise 
their damn war." 

Lord Immingham looked unmoved, probably 
aware that the war would go on all the same. So 
Bulmer grew angrier. 

"It's all very well coming along and trying to 
hector me, and bully me, and telling me what I 
ought to say and what I ought not to say. There's 
lots I could have said that'd have put the govern- 
ment into Queer Street: what did you people do 
when French was retiring after Mons and screaming 
aloud for material to replace what he'd lost? Noth- 
ing. You just gave out that everything had been 
replaced. Instead of sending out guns and transport 
that you hadn't got, you gave the country a dose of 
Mother Seigel's Soothing Syrup. I could have raised 
the roof off this building if I'd chosen to print the 
truth. And it will be printed one day, when French 
tells the world why Haig stepped into his shoes. 
Perhaps it won't be written till you're dead, but it 
won't make you a pretty monument." 

"I'm not talking about that," said Immingham, 
after a long pause. Then, with a rare flash of irony : 
"It's not like you, Lord Bulmer, to talk of something 
that happened over a year ago. Out of date, you 
know." 

This easy taunt stung Bulmer, and, suddenly 

337 



*$ CALIBAN 12 

espousing in public the munitions campaign which 
Lord Northcliffe had captured under his nose, he 
began to threaten. As he talked he knew that he 
hated this obstinate, cold personage, who sat there 
listening to him as if he did not want to hear him. 
He got up to talk more freely, and ended about his 
adversary. Immingham followed him with his eyes, 
massive, careless. It was elephant versus tiger, and 
so far the elephant refused to do more than watch 
his active antagonist. When Bulmer stopped Im- 
mingham said: "I'm not going to be bullied about. 
If your papers don't toe the line within a week, we'll 
put D. O. R. A. on to you." 

"Oh," said Bulmer, "is that the idea? Well, let 
me point out that you won't D. O. R. A. me so 
easily as you think. To begin with, you can't take 
me into a police court. I'm a peer. You'll have to 
try me in the House of Lords, and I can tell you, 
Lord Immingham, that that'll make more noise 
than the whole of your damned artillery." 

Then, for the first time, Lord Immingham smiled, 
a very slow, gradual smile, and said: 

"Wouldn't dream of trying you. Pop you into 
the Tower. Plenty of time to try you when the 
war's done." 

Bulmer also smiled, and suddenly felt immensely 
superior to this simple, stockish soldier. He felt 
sorry for Lord Immingham, who was unable to 
realize what public opinion meant, and, above all, 
did not understand the cowardice of his fellow- 
Ministers. For the first time he understood the 
stupidity of this great figure, who had gained his 

position by inactivity, by carelessness of the feelings 

338 



*8? LORD IMMINGHAM *8 

of others, by immense freedom from emotion. He 
had become superior through his own inferiority. 
He had mastered men because he had never tried to 
understand them, and so had made no weakening 
allowances for their temperaments. He had seen 
the world in terms of correspondence between 
Q. M. G. 2 and Q. M. G. 4. He had moved men as 
he shifted ballast. His inhumanity had mastered 
their humanity. He had rigged himself high on his 
ignorance and had imposed his worn-out ideas by; 
disdaining to state them. For a long time Buhner 
had hated Immingham, his childish brutality, his 
intolerance that transcended optimism and pessi- 
mism, his incapacity to harbor either, his extremism, 
that arose from inability to conceive the extreme. 
He saw that Lord Immingham's high confidence 
was made up of heavy disdain for all men. 

So he got up and said: "Well, there's nothing to 
add. I'll do what I choose, and you'll do what you 
choose. And one thing you won't do is to put a 
muzzle on me. I've got everything I want: money, 
power, rank. Now I'm enjoying the great luxury — 
the right to tell the truth.' ' As Lord Immingham 
did not indicate any further emotion, Buhner felt 
he must attack him, shake him, compel him to show 
temper, to show something. So he grew personal. 
"I wonder what you thought could be the result of 
this. I wonder whether you've consulted your col- 
leagues, and whether the Cabinet, in despair of talk- 
ing me over by sending me young William, have 
put you on to me to frighten me? You won't frighten 
me, Lord Immingham. You'll only irritate me. 
And two can play at frightening. I made Digby, I 

339 



*8? CALIBAN °$ 

can unmake Digby, I can unmake you. I can do 
a good deal one way or another for your future, 
which is as uncertain as that of all men." 

Lord Immingham got up and replied, "All men's 
future is uncertain until they are hanged," shook 
Buhner's hand, and sat down again at his desk, 
where he busied himself with folders full of minutes. 
The interview was finished. 



Chapter VII 
Spate 

41 \ I TILL your lordship see Lady Buhner?" 

VV "Oh, what?" Then instinct told him to 
be casual, and swiftly he realized that he could not 
afford to refuse to see her. So, in a careless tone 
that concealed savagery, "Show her in." He had 
not seen Vi for two years, and though he was enraged 
by her audacity he was curious of her. She was the 
past. When she came in her attitude was half 
cringing, half defiant. As if she knew that she was 
trying to force his hand and was not quite sure that 
she could do it. 

"How much do you want?" he asked. While she 
hesitated he surveyed her. She had grown rather 
older in those two years; now she looked forty-nine, 
though her hair shone with a peculiar blackness. 
There was a touch of blue in the dye. Round the 
fine eyes ran a little webbing of wrinkles, and the 
skin of the cheeks, rather loose, was running down 
into the loose flesh of the neck. She was rather 
stouter, too, and, though dressed with heavy smart- 
ness, she was displeasing. One could guess that her 
legs were too thick. 

"Want?" she said. Then, with a hesitant smile: 
"How you do put things, Dick! I was passing; I 

341 



*g CALIBAN H 

just thought I'd come in and see you. Can't a 
woman come and see her husband now and then, 
even if they haven't always got on?" 

"How much do you want?" 

She flushed, and an honest expression of regret 
crossed her face. She did not love him, but they 
had never exactly quarreled. What had she done, 
she wondered. So she said: 

" Please don't talk to me like that. I've done you 
no harm. I've kept out of your way all these years. 
Of course it's been lonely — a woman alone, you 
know." 

" Please don't be sentimental, and tell me how 
much you want." 

"I don't want anything," said Vi, getting up with 
as much dignity as her weight would allow, "only 
I think it's a pity you and I should go on like this. 
We're not as young as we were. We began life so 
happily, and . . ." he watched her, determined not 
to help her, "we're getting on in years." As he said 
nothing, she ceased to maneuver. "Dick, won't 
you take me back?" 

"Why should I? We've done very well without 
each other." 

"You used to love me; at least you said you did. 
Perhaps it was my fault. Perhaps I didn't give you 
all you wanted." 

He looked at her more gently. He remembered 
that he had loved her in the way in which she under- 
stood love. She had been violently desirable; she 
had given him the first somber glimpses of passion, 
but she had never crowned with a garland of roses 

the dancing satyr of her animalism. 

342 



jlj SPATE ^^ *g 

"My poor old Vi," he said, "I'm sorry, but it's 
no good. One doesn't do at forty-nine what one 
failed to do at twenty-nine. Perhaps one doesn't 
do it when one's twenty-nine, but one believes one 
does. Illusion, you know. And one doesn't get 
illusion twice." 

For a moment the dark woman hesitated; then a 
rush of blood colored her dark cheeks brick, and she 
said, in a low voice : 

"Oh, doesn't one? Some people do. A little bird 
told me that it looks as if you had." 

"What do you mean?" 

"What I say," said Vi, smoothly. 

Then as Bulmer, maddened by this bromide, 
banged the table, she added: "I'm not so cut off 
as you think. I hear things. What'd you say if 
I was to go and see Mrs. Willoughby?" 

Bulmer jumped up, and she shrank away from 
the fury in his eyes. 

"Oh," he said, "that's your little game! How 
dare you mention her name; the sweetest, the 
loveliest of all!" 

^ "Dare!" cried Vi, angered by this praise of her 
rival. "That's a fine word to use to your wife. 
What would there be extraordinary if your wife 
was to call on one of her husband's dearest friends? 
I've half a mind to divorce you." 

"Well, do it," said Bulmer. "I asked you to, 
long ago. Go on, divorce me; I'll give you cause. 
I'll knock your head off for you if you need any 
cruelty." 

He looked so threatening that she stepped back. 
As he did not follow her, she began to mouth threats, 

23 343 



Tg CALIBAN *S? 

She'd call on Mrs. Willoughby. She'd give her some 
sweetest and some loveliest of all. She'd expose 
him. She'd make him the talk of the town. As she 
grew shrill, he interrupted her: 

"Look here, I've had enough of this. Another 
word and I cut off your allowance. Oh yes, I 
know; it's settled on you, but it'll take you time 
to get it. You shall sue me for it every time, and 
I'll have six K.C.'s on the job to find out ways to 
make the law still slower than it is. And if you go 
near Mrs. Willoughby, if you call on her, write to 
her, telephone her, or send anybody to her; if to 
my knowledge you dare to think of her, I'll do things 
to you. Quiet, nasty, criminal things." He stepped 
forward, and she stepped back. "I'll do secret 
things to you, like the Chinese tortures in the maga- 
zines." Still terrified, she receded before him and, 
as he stepped forward again, with a little cry, turned 
and ran out of the room. 

Buhner returned to his desk; pressed a button. 
When Moss came in he said: "Has Mr. Alsager 
been waiting a long time? Show him in, anyhow." 

Alsager had, for the last ten days, been The Man. 
He was a wall-paper manufacturer in a large way of 
business, but was then filling for the benefit of his 
country a high position in the Ministry of Food. 
Bulmer met him at lunch at the House of Commons, 
where he had gone to meet Digby. Alsager sharply 
contrasted with Digby; while Digby, for every 
possible reason, fumed and bellowed, seeing spies 
everywhere, and demanding the execution of U-boat 
crews, Alsager, with his heavy jaw, his small, acquisi- 
tive eyes, his impassive quality, recalled Lord Im- 

344 



18 SPATE *g 

mingham. He let Bulmer talk for a long time of 
compulsory rationing, which Buhner was violently 
booming. Bulmer had gone so far as to put up a 
board outside Upper Brook Street, on which, every 
day, he posted a bill showing the number of adults 
in the house and the number of ounces of meat, 
sugar, and tea consumed. When he had done, 
Alsager replied: 

"I know. I've had the books printed." 

"Oh . . . have you? You're sure rationing's com- 
ing, then?" 

"No. But I don't pay for the books, and I'm 
ready for rationing when it comes." 

"Oh, we'll put it through," said Bulmer, gaily. 
"We want the lowest rations we can get, not the 
highest. The less food a man gets the more tragic 
he'll feel and the more he'll feel he's doing something 
in the war, so I'm glad you've got ready for the 
emergency." 

"There are no emergencies," said Alsager, solidly. 
"Not if you foresee them." 

Alsager was an immense success ; he had the right 
kind of face for success, an air of resolution that was 
merely obstinacy, eyes that looked cautious because 
they were callous; he said drastic things because he 
was unable to realize anybody else's point of view. 
He became the first of Bulmer's business men, 
whom, immediately after the fall of Mr. Asquith, 
he decided to force upon the government. He had 
three more favorites, Sir Charles Hamerton, head of 
a jam combine, Mr. Edgeworth, who controlled large 
rolling mills at Dudley, and a Scotch stock-broker 
called Douglas. Day after day Bulmer collected 

345 



% CALIBAN H 

details of Civil Service delay and inefficiency, and 
set them up in the form of tales with a moral. The 
most successful was the story of the despatch by the 
War Office of sand-boxes to go with motor-cars for 
the purpose of putting out fires. These were sent 
to Egypt. Bulmer a little later discovered that the 
painstaking War Office, wishing to overlook nothing, 
had sent to Egypt with the boxes several tons 
of sand. The moral ran, "We want Sir Charles 
Hamerton to sweep the dusty cobwebs from the 
antique nooks and crannies of Whitehall, which for 
centuries have been left unswept, by Mr. Putitoff 
and Mr. Passiton." 

For Bulmer, with the assistance of Tick, had 
created a large tribe of civil servants, among whom 
were not only Mr. Putitoff and Mr. Passiton, but 
also Mr. Shuffle, Miss Squirm, Miss Flapperty, and 
Lord Snooze. Very often the entire menagerie was 
mobilized for a single cartoon: Alsager, Hamerton, 
and the rest were generally got up as St. Georges in 
armor, puncturing Mr. Snuffle, while Mr. Passiton 
vainly gnawed their armored legs. Douglas, having 
revolted one day, was encouraged by being repre- 
sented as St. Anthony, resisting temptation per- 
sonified by Miss Flapperty. Bulmer was enjoying 
himself enormously, not only because every morning 
and afternoon he could bellow with laughter and slap 
his thighs over the cartoon, but because he was 
succeeding. Posts had been found for all his cham- 
pions, and he really believed in his business govern- 
ment. He harbored an honest hatred of the Civil 
Service, and though he grew more hopeful when 
Mr. Lloyd George became Premier, he had suffered 

346 



*8? SPATE « 

terror when Serbia was crushed ; his mind magnified 
every small evidence of inefficiency. His Liberal 
faith was now half forgotten. He was glad of the 
coalition, because it exempted him from supporting 
a party; he was not good at supporting, and he was 
glad of the coalition because it was a compromise, 
and so he could always attack one side or the other. 

It was this agitation, perhaps, prevented him from 
progressing farther with Janet. She felt compelled 
to take in his papers, and they disgusted her. She 
was wholly tired of the war. She had never been a 
patriot, but a vague distaste for the pacifists forbade 
her to unite with them. She wanted the war won, 
but a fine discrimination made the methods of war- 
winning repulsive to her. And yet, that which 
repelled attracted her. War was dramatic. So Bul- 
mer, in those days, found in his sweet friend uncer- 
tain support, an uncertainty that sometimes favored 
him. Thus she showed him a cutting from a rival 
newspaper, which proved that the statistics he 
quoted in support of the strict blockade misrepre- 
sented the case, because they stated it only in part. 

"Oh, we can't bother about that," said Buhner. 
"We've got to win the war." 

"I'm not thinking about that," said Janet. "I 
quite agree with you. But can't we win the war 
without fraudulent statistics?" 

"I don't know and I don't care," said Buhner. 
"All I know is, we want a strict blockade, and if we 
start putting down columns and columns of figures 
nobody'll read them." 

"But surely you agree it's wrong to mislead 
people?" 

347 



*$> CALIBAN 






" One's got to mislead people if one wants to lead 
them." 

She did not reply. That was the sort of re- 
mark with which Bulmer always silenced her 
repugnance. His extremism seemed to her mag- 
nificent. But he was hurt; he felt the need to state 
himself. 

"Oh yes, I know, you're like all those people . . . 
it's your charm, I suppose; it's delightful in you, 
all that about playing the game and telling the 
truth. But you can't do it; you can't play the 
game with life; life always uses loaded dice if it gets 
a chance. And you can't tell people the truth; it's 
the only thing they don't believe. There's only one 
way to succeed, and that is to lead, honestly if you 
can, but lead." 

"Where to?" 

"I don't know. Life goes marching on, we don't 
know where to. Why not walk in the first row 
rather than in the last? I don't know and I don't 
care. I read something the other day about the 
earth getting cold in a million years. Well, we'll 
see about that in a million years. For all we know, 
in a million years there may be nothing left except 
the Daily Gazette." 

She laughed at his seriousness. "Dick," she said, 
"I do hope you go to heaven and float the Eden 
Gazette, with an edition in Greek for the Elysian 
Fields, and others in Arabic and Hindustani for the 
other peoples of the British Raj." 

"Well, I may go somewhere else," said Bulmer, 
smiling. 

"I hope not," said Janet. "You see, paper is so 

348 



*» SPATE ]B 

combustible. The only consolation for you would 
be the yellow color of the flame." 

Bulmer suddenly grew earnest. " Yellow! What 
about it if we are the Yellow Press? I believe in 
the Yellow Press! Anyhow, it's more alive than the 
stewed-tea and pink-pill press. People talk against 
the Yellow Press. It's a lot they know about it. 
The Yellow Press is the biggest thing that has hap- 
pened to the world since steam, and that was the 
biggest thing before then. The Yellow Press has 
moved humanity and taught it to read. Oh yes, I 
know you'll say it has taught humanity to read 
snippets, and paragraphs, and scandal. That's true: 
but what did humanity read before I taught it to 
read something? I'm not the first in the field: the 
Daily MaiVs five years older than me. But, before 
we came, men like me, like Northcliffe, like Hulton, 
like Rothermere, what do you think the people read? 
Do you think they read the Times and the Spectator? 
They read nothing. They ate, they drank, they 
thought just as much as a lot of cattle in a field. 
What good do you think compulsory education was? 
Before me there was nothing with which to educate." 

"Surely," said Janet, "you don't educate. You 
only give them the news." 

"Yes, I do educate. I give them the news, yes, 
and in so doing I teach them everything a man needs 
to know. I teach them geography, I teach them 
history in a way in which they can learn it. I 
stimulate their interest in strange things. I've taught 
them that the thunderbolt is not the arrow of God; 
I've made them understand what is electricity, and 
I haven't burdened them with great fat columns 

349 



*g CALIBAN 



CQ3 



filled with words they don't understand. I've slung 
at them words I don't understand myself, just a few, 
words like dynamo, alternating current. Just enough 
to exercise their interest, so that those who are really 
interested can go on. I have blazed the trail of 
knowledge. I have got them out of their Sunday- 
afternoon sleep. I've interested them in plays, in 
tariffs, in pictures. Bad plays, you say, and bad pict- 
ures. Very likely; that's no business of mine. It's 
their business to go on when I've started them. I'm 
an agitator, I'm not a prophet. I show 'em the way; 
without me there'd be no sign-post. There'd be 
nobody except some mandarins in the universities 
to care about knowledge and art. I don't care about 
art much myself, but I advertise it. I make the 
arts, I make the sciences, because the Yellow Press 
gives them a chance among millions of men. Talk 
about the red flag as the standard of revolution! I 
say the yellow flag is the true standard of the revo- 
lution of men against stupidity and ignorance. I 
know one doesn't do that sort of thing without doing 
some damage. My little paragraphs have broken 
up the people's capacity for concentration; they 
can't read a column now, but when did they read 
a column? Never! The working-men and the typists 
and clerks in the trains? They have never read a 
column, but they read me. I've let hysteria loose, 
taste for scandal, superficiality, crude views, vul- 
garity. Yes, I have, but before me was stagnation. 
In my pond, at least, there are bubbles where twenty 
years ago there was only frog spawn. You don't 
know what it was like in the 'eighties, when I was a 
boy. You haven't seen your father sleeping off his 

350 



°£ SPATE ^ 

meal on a Sunday afternoon, your mother counting 
the napkins in the intervals of reading some slush 
by Ouida, and your sisters embroidering table cen- 
ters for people who'd done them no harm. You 
haven't lived in an atmosphere like blanc-mange. 
But I have, and I've burst through all that. I've 
driven the chariot of progress through the black 
thickets of the nineteenth century. I've irritated 
the public, and bullied it, and excited it because I've 
stimulated its interest. What would you have me 
sling at them? Not the Quarterly Review. Oh yes, 
I know my stuff's not artistic, but I'm not ashamed. 
It's stuff just as good as the people can take, and 
when they can take the better stuff they shall have 
it, because it is my job to give it 'em." 

"Do you never blush for the stuff?" asked Janet. 

"No. Yellow can't blush. Besides, why should 
we blush? The Yellow Press is real and alive, and 
I've no use for the Aihenceum and the Mausoleum, 
those elegant amusements of country gentlemen who 
have nothing to do. My public's busy living, and 
it's got to be stimulated if it's to be interested enough 
to keep alive. It finds life hard, and I make it excit- 
ing. I do that by the journalistic touch; I make an 
archbishop topical. Without me he wouldn't be 
a topic at all. If I chose to quote Shelley at the end 
of an advertisement of Bile Beans, I'd make a popu- 
larity for Shelley that he never got out of the Black- 
bird, or the Skylark, or whatever bird he wrote about. 
I am the ginger of the world. What I attack 
crashes, because I wake up all those who are ready 
to hate it. What I support rises, because millions 
of men are asking to be led. They follow me because 

351 



% CALIBAN Tg 

I am not afraid. If an enemy attacks me I inter- 
view him, if I think fit, and give his views publicity 
so that he may advertise me. If he is entirely furi- 
ous, I photograph him. But whatever I do, I do 
the thing which is going to give the public a little 
shock of surprise or pleasure. A spirit was breathed 
into Adam: I breathe into him another one, the 
spirit of the day. You understand?" he cried, 
urgently. "You see what I mean?" His mood 
changed; he flung himself on his knees by her side, 
clasping her close, and whispering ardent words. 
He frightened and overwhelmed her, bat delighted 
her, as if even she, so withdrawn, so cool, even she 
were stimulated and excited by this servant, of the 
people. 

"No, don't ask me yet," she murmured. "Oh, I 
don't pretend to be moral. I'm sure of you, yes, 
but I'm not sure of myself yet, for what I give you 
I sha'n't take away." Unable to understand her 
own emotions, she bent down, swiftly kissed his 
cheek, and freed herself before he could, in incredu- 
lous delight, press farther his apparent, victory. 



Chapter VIII 
Proclamations 

BULMER had several times heard the name of 
Major Houghton. For two or three months it 
had recurred in Janet's conversation. "Major 
Houghton says"; or, "Major Houghton told me it 
isn't the shelling the men mind, but . . ." A curi- 
osity awoke in Buhner, not because Houghton in- 
terested him, but because he could not bear the 
existence of the unknown. So he was interested to 
meet him at lunch at Janet's. It was a small party. 
Besides himself and Janet there were only two 
elderly relatives of hers, Major Houghton, and 
Eleanor, who had been asked, he did not know why. 
During lunch Buhner seemed to dominate the assem- 
bly. His victory over Lord Immingham in the mat- 
ter of machine-guns still conferred upon him a cer- 
tain prestige, and so for three courses he was able to 
mouth defiance of the government and to threaten 
its individual members. He had just invented a 
new word, "shuffle"; everything was shuffle, and 
everybody was shuffling. So it was to be until he 
discovered a new word. That morning he was par- 
ticularly happy, because Mr. Edgeworth had at last 
been convicted in the House of having allowed an 
invention to be returned unexamined. 

353 



*» CALIBAN *8? 

"Of course he explained/ ' said Bulmer; " that's 
what a Minister's for. To find sixteen different 
reasons why a thing hasn't been done. It made 
one ill, I can tell you, to listen to him, smooth like 
a wet seal, talking of the public interest and the 
necessities of the situation, and all the balderdash 
that private secretaries teach their Ministers, the 
same old song always taught to the new parrot." 

Houghton laughed, and Bulmer looked at him 
approvingly. 

"Parrots!" he said again, "shuffling from one leg 
to the other. First they shuffle on the right leg, and 
then they shuffle on the left leg, and then they stand 
on their head and hold on to their perch with their 
beak, and try to shuffle that way. Shuffle! I'll 
have the lot out. You saw the placard of The Day? 
Double crown and bright yellow, and just the word 
\ Shuffle' printed on it. I expect Edgeworth read 
that placard as he went to what he calls work after 
his eggs and bacon; it isn't shuffle he did; it's 
totter." 

The elderly relatives watched him with horror and 
delight. They had in their lifetime met a number 
of lords, the sort of lords who, in the country, ex- 
changed a joke with a laborer, radiated patronage 
and benevolence at horse-shows, and only voted 
in the House once in their lives against the Parlia- 
ment bill of that pettifogging Welsh attorney, Lloyd 
George. But this sort of lord was new to them. 
His voice, his rolling eye, and his incredible deter- 
mination to do things, smash things, put up things, 
instead of leaving things where they beautifully 
were, as was the way of their sort of lord. Their 

354 



*8? PROCLAMATIONS ]8 

amazement thrilled Bulmer. Seeing that they were 
impressed, he felt he must impress them more, and 
so addressed them almost exclusively. He was going 
to do things to Mr. Edgeworth. Mr. Edgeworth was 
going to be an ex-Minister within a week. There 
was going to be a leader about him in The Day. And 
when a man got a leader in The Day either he went 
up or he went down. 

"But," faltered at last the elderly female relative, 
"everybody says that Mr. Edgeworth's a great 
business man. Who are you going to have instead? " 

"Anybody," said Bulmer. "One couldn't lose on 
the deal. But it isn't a question of getting some- 
body. I've got somebody in my mind's eye. There's 
a young man called Anstey, quite a young member; 
but he's got hold of an idea . . . well, perhaps I'd 
better not mention it, but I tell you it's an idea that 
would make a Berliner wish he was in . . . the lower 
regions instead of in Berlin. There's not much in 
his way. Anstey's going up, and Edgeworth's going 
down. And each of them will be kicked his own way 
by the same boot. Mine." 

The old couple felt very pleased and in the know 
when a few days later they read in The Day (which 
they still took in, though much puzzled by the re- 
pairs effected since the Mortimer period) that Mr. 
Edgeworth was to take a peerage. They did not 
exactly realize that this was a disgrace, but a friend 
insinuated that a peerage was, in these days, less 
significant than a seat in the House of Commons, 
and anyhow it was a very new peerage. Simulta- 
neously Anstey boomed, thanks to the mysterious 
booming of his invention. Anstey was photographed 

355 



% CALIBAN *% 

at home, sometimes in his laboratory, working on 
his bomb (which later turned out to be filled with 
prussic acid), and also in gayer moods, playing with 
his dogs, or carrying upon each knee a little girl 
borrowed for the occasion. The entire Bulmer press 
went Ansteyite, and for a few weeks it was under- 
stood that "the bracing influence of a gallant young 
soldier" was going to redeem Mr. Edgeworth's un- 
fortunate department. 

While Bulmer terrified and delighted Janet's rela- 
tives, Major Houghton was being interviewed by 
Eleanor on war and the warrior. She was horrified 
when Houghton told her that he hoped his conva- 
lescence would be slow, as he wanted to hang on 
and get a chance with the grouse. 

"But," cried Eleanor, whose every angle expressed 
shocked incredulity, "do you mean to say you don't 
want to go back? " 

"Not at all," he said. "Why should I want to? 
Do you think I enjoy it?" 

Eleanor hesitated. She couldn't call him a cow- 
ard as he wore the M.C. and a wound stripe, and 
in addition carried his right arm in a sling. 

"Enjoy it?" she said. "No, I didn't say that. 
But surely you want to go back. All men want to 
go back." 

"You should ask my battery," said Houghton. 
"The only place they want to go back to is the base. 
As for me, I'd have bolted if Byng hadn't posted 
infantry with machine-guns behind our brigade." 
"But," cried Eleanor, "why should he do that?" 
Very carefully Major Houghton replied: "Well, 
you see, that's modern war. The men in the second 

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« PROCLAMATIONS °£ 



line have instructions to shoot the first line if it tries 
to bolt. The third line does that to the second line. 
The R. F. A. is kept in place by machine-guns. 
Behind these we put the R. G. A., which'll shell 
'em if they move. And so on right down to the base. 
And of course the base doesn't move because they're 
out of range. So they don't need watching, and 
when there's a show on everybody goes ahead like 
smoke." 

" You're making fun of me/' said Eleanor, for 
Janet had begun to laugh. "You know quite well 
you want to go back like the others, because you'd 
be unhappy if you didn't." 

"I should try to bear up," said Houghton. 

Eleanor was much annoyed; she disliked chaff 
because she was not quite sure what was chaff and 
what wasn't. So she ended by quarreling with 
Houghton, who saw nothing tragic in the royal 
family having adopted the name of Windsor. 

"Everybody's doing it," he remarked, "even my 
Hun bootmaker." 

"I think it's tragic," said Eleanor, "it draws atten- 
tion. It makes people talk of republics." 

"Well, let's talk of republics," said Houghton. 
"I'm a republican just now. Caught it in France. 
And it's worse than trench-feet; it's internal. You 
know, war has frightful effects on your politics: I 
went out a Conservative; then I was buried by a 
whizzbang, and they dug me up a Radical. Sorry, 
Lord Buhner, I didn't mean to offend you; some 
of us are born like that. Others like me have got 
to rise again. But, you know, Miss Bulmer, after 
catching the republican microbe, I've lately been 

357 



IS CALIBAN ]8? 

kept awake by a micro-organism called Socialism. 
There's no Keatings for that." Wickedly he began 
to scratch his right shoulder. " There, I can feel 
it nibbling. When it's the left side it's Smillie 
at me; when it's the right it's Sidney Webb. 
Smillie," he whispered, "is much worse." Then 
Eleanor turned an offended back on him and told 
the male elderly relative what plays he ought to see 
while he was in town. 

After lunch Buhner drew closer to Houghton. He 
liked him, because Eleanor, as they went into the 
drawing-room, told him that the young fellow was 
either underbred or had not recovered from shell- 
shock. Houghton was about thirty-two, and had 
just been given his majority. He was short, rather 
too broad, and had the narrowest, hardest gray eyes 
a man can have. With these went close, curly, fair 
hair and an entirely impish mouth. He suggested 
contrast, for he had, with this joker's mouth, a 
savagely broad jaw and large, ugly teeth. Buhner 
found him difficult to handle, for Houghton sulked 
when one expected him to talk, and was given to 
bursts of oratory. Evidently he was agitated by 
the war, for he suddenly turned on Bulmer, who 
innocently asked him whether they didn't want more 

men. 

"Oh, I'm fed up with this cry for men. All the 
papers shout for men when we can't get enough 
plum and apple to feed those we've got. I say we 
want less men out there and more men making plum 
and apple. Besides, the more men we put up and 
the more men the Boche puts up, the more get 
killed. Expect we've killed four or five million so 

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*g PROCLAMATIONS °g 

far, and the more we lose the more we've got to put 
in. When everybody's dead we'll have won the 
war, and I hope everybody'll be happy wherever 
they are." 

"Oh, of course we want more men," said Bulmer. 

"Well, when they're all dead, it'll only mean the 
white man's lost the war and the yellow men'll take 
over. Then they and the black men'll wipe each 
other out, and what's left over will be mopped up 
when science has progressed so far that we can at 
last start our war with Mars. When all the planets 
have rid one another of their population then we'll 
have a general judgment day, and start all over 
again with a brand-new nebular system and a higher 
intelligence — that is, an intelligence which can kill 
more quickly." 

As nobody said anything, a little shocked by 
Houghton's bitterness, he went on: "What's this 
war after all? General vitality standing up to 
general vitality. You people here think it's soldiers 
only win the war, because you don't see 'em do it. 
We think it's the plum and apples win the war 
because we don't see plum and apples on the job." 

"What do you mean by plum and apples?" said 
Bulmer. 

"I mean the rest of you. I mean the miners and 
the fellows on the tramp steamers, and the girls who 
fill shells, and the kids who weave khaki. I come 
over here, and I find all the people rooting in the 
funkholes, talking of combing 'em out, and smoking 
'em out. I guess you'll do it. You'll go on smoking 
out until there's nobody to till the fields, and nobody 
to drive the locomotives, and nobody to dig pota- 

24 359 



% CALIBAN *$ 

toes. The papers over here are like bad sailors. 
They've started being sick, and they can't stop. 
AJ1 they can do is to whimper, l Steward, bring 
another basin.'" 

"But what do you want to do?" asked Buhner. 

"Oh, get on with the job, I suppose. Finish the 
war, anyhow, so that we can start getting ready for 
the next. Getting ready's jolly; a lot of pipe-clay, 
and generals riding about madly in all directions. 
But war! War's dull." 

It was not until a fortnight later, when the phrase 
"getting ready's jolly, but war! war's dull," struck 
Buhner as strange as it came out of Janet's mouth. 
He suddenly connected. They had met accidentally 
at an at-home, and for a moment were standing 
together in a crowd. He asked, with apparent 
irrelevancy: 

"How long have you Known Major Houghton?" 

"Oh," said Janet, opening surprised eyes, "about 
three months. His people know mine." 

"How long is he going to be in England?" 

"Not very long, I believe. His wound's nearly 
well. At least he told me that his last board said 
that he'd be fit in a month or two." Janet looked 
away, and said, meditatively, "He tells me his bat- 
tery has just sailed for Mesopotamia." 

After a moment, during which Bulmer aostractedly 
got out of the way of busy young soldiers who were 
balancing ices over his head, he looked up, and 
stared at Janet. Then he said: 

"Janet, if I get a divorce, will you marry me?" 

"What!" said Janet. "For Heaven's sake, Dick, 
don't say these things here." 

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£ PROCLAMATIONS °% 

He looked about him vaguely. They were en- 
tirely surrounded by people who felt fat. It was 
very hot, and the young soldiers were breaking mer- 
cilessly in and out of the crowd, holding perilously, on 
sloping plates, various articles of food. 

" Let's get out of this," said Buhner. " Let's see 
if we can find a quiet corner." As this was a large 
house in Rutland Gate they went out on a terrace 
that gave into a dark garden, where a few couples 
were seeking corners. They leaned for a moment 
over the balustrade, and Buhner observed with con- 
tent the long gracefulness of his partner. That night 
she wore a gown made mainly of white lace. She 
looked very girlish and pale, with her slender fore- 
arms on the balustrade. 

"Well, yes," he said at length, "I love you; I've 
told you before." He said this without fervor, as 
if it were an accepted fact. 

As she did not reply, he added, "You know that, 
don't you?" 

She nodded. 

"Well, I've never asked you exactly. But you 
like me, don't you?" 

She nodded again. 

"Eighteen months. You've been everything to 
me." His voice suddenly grew hoarse, and he 
grasped her bare arm. "And I love you. I'm mad 
for you. Oh, I know I'm old. Forty-six. Does it 
matter?" 

His passion made him acute. So he repeated: 
That doesn't matter. But something matters." 

She did not reply. 

"What is it?" he asked. "Is it that I'm not 

361 



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*8 CALIBAN ^ 

free? Perhaps I could be free. Supposing I were 
free?" 

"It's not that." 

"Well, what is it? Oh, I know I'm not much. 
I . . . I've risen." 

She turned quickly toward him, afraid that he 
discerned in her a disdain she did not feel. 

"No," she said, "it's not that. You ought to 
know me by now. I shouldn't care whether you 
were free or not if I were sure I cared . . . well, only 
for you." 

"Only for me?" he repeated. "How do you 
mean?" 

"Well, one doesn't only care always for one thing 
or one person. You care for your newspapers as 
much as you care for me." 

"It's not true," he cried, hotly. "I'll . . . I'll 
sink the lot if you wish it." 

"Would you?" she said, and her eyes glowed. 
For a moment Janet was the eternal mistress who 
bids the painter stab his picture, the engineer blow 
up his bridge, so that she may have no rival. Almost 
she said, "If you sink them . . . well, do with me 
what you will." But instead she replied: "Don't 
be silly. I know what they mean to you, your 
papers. They are you." 

"And you mean they aren't much? Well, we are 
what we are, my papers and I. We are the Yellow 
Press. Ours is the color of the sunlight that lights 
up the dark places. The Yellow Press is the un- 
afraid; it respects nothing, it fears nothing, it spares 
nothing. It cares for nothing except for the pub- 
lication of the truth." 

362 



% PROCLAMATIONS *8 

" Truth? Always?" 

"The truth is not always expedient. The mob 
can't stand it." 

"But are you content to please the mob?" 

"I don't please the mob; I lead it. Oh, the mob 
isn't so low; it has a dim light in its mind, like that 
half -moon you see hanging there over South Ken- 
sington. The mob isn't so bad if there's somebody 
behind it. People call mob-rule ochlocracy, but the 
mob has sense. Anyhow, I don't mind. Any ' cracy ' 
will do for me. In aristocracy I'm strong, and I 
either join the aristocrats or I smash them, leading 
the people. In plutocracy I'm rich. In democracy 
I can be elected if I choose. In ochlocracy I can 
wait until the mob wavers and make myself an 
autocrat. Words, all that. I'm neither aristocratic 
nor democratic. I'm anycratic, because I under- 
stand my fellow-men, because I can stimulate them 
the right way." 

"Dick, are you sure you stimulate them the right 
way?" 

"What is the right way? Even Pontius Pilate 
didn't know what was truth. Of course, he was a 
lawyer. My way's the right way because I believe 
in it. Yes, I know I interest the people in sensa- 
tion, in murders and cinemas, and stolen jewelry 
. . . but what else am I to interest them in? Do you 
think you can interest them in conchology or the 
use of globes? Other publications have tried and 
they have interested them in nothing. Fifty years 
ago all the people cared for was feeble love and 
strong beer. I woke 'em up: by making a million 
of them read about Crippen in my fifth page, I got 

363 



■8 CALIBAN ji? 

a hundred to read Arnold Bennett in my fourth. 
Thanks to my missing-word competitions, I entice a 
proportion of them to the Russian ballet. I get 
people into my fold by giving them what they want, 
and when I've snared 'em in I make some of them 
have what I want. Oh, I know, you've said it 
before, does it last? Does it do them any good? 
How do I know? I'm the man of the moment; how 
do you expect me to be the man of all time? I'm 
the mirror of the times, and as times change the 
picture changes. Mirrors don't hold pictures; if 
you want a picture to stay you'll have to get a 
damned waxwork from Madam Tussaud's. My 
papers freeze life stiff for the moment. They solidify 
a mood. Why should a picture last longer than a 
mood? I may turn into ashes, but Cadbury will 
turn into Gorgonzola. I may be bound to earth, but 
that's as good as surviving in a brummagem heaven 
fitted with feather wings made by sweated girls at 
twopence farthing an hour. No, I've no use for 
pijaw. I teach the people what I like, and I like 
everything. I'm like the sea that washes up offal 
and jewels. It's for you to make your pick. I show 
you the present; it's your job to fish out the future. 
The future, what is it? Only the present . . . more 
so. I'm the future. Round me, in this house, there 
are three hundred subjects of Queen Victoria. I'm 
a subject of Edward VIII." 

His vehemence shook her. It was always the 
same thing. She could not help admiring him when 
his mind rode the torrent. He was coarse; he was 
brutal. She knew all that. And a recent influence 
was inclining her to a vision of life richer in humor, 

364 



% PROCLAMATIONS jB 

more contemptuous of actuality, more mistily ideal- 
istic. Just then she hated the attraction she felt 
for this vigorous, limited man. So she said: "Oh, 
Dick, I wish you wouldn't talk like that. You 
complicate things." 

He stared at her. "I don't understand." 

"You're so interesting, and yet . . . you frighten 
me." 

"How?" 

"Well, other people take life so differently. They 
look ahead. They criticize. You, you don't criti- 
cize. You take things as they are and print them." 

"Other people," said Buhner, who had grasped 
the only essential phrase. So, after a long pause, 
with sudden intuition he said, "Do you like Major 
Houghton?" 

"Yes." Her eyes were startled. Never before 
had Buhner shown intuition. It was terrifying. It 
was such overwhelming evidence of the love he bore 
her. He went on with brutal directness. 

"Has he asked you to marry him?" 

"No, of course not," she said, hotly. "What 
makes you think that?" 

"I don't know; I'm not myself to-night. It's 
come on me suddenly. Supposing I lost you?" She 
could not bear to see him unhappy, and pressed his 
hand. "Don't be afraid," she murmured, "you 
shall never lose me, as you put it, unless you want 
to. And don't ask questions about Major Hough- 
ton. I like him. Of course I like him. I like lots 
of people." 

"Has he asked you to marry him?" 

"Well, if you will hurt yourself, I can't save you 

365 



"g CALIBAN °S 

all the time. He has said that he will ask me when 
he comes back from Mesopotamia." 

"And what did you say?" 

"I could not forbid him to. The crossing-sweeper 
can ask me to marry him if he chooses." 

"You don't speak of him as if he were a crossing- 
sweeper." Suddenly he grasped her by the elbow. 
They were in the shadow, and he drew her into his 
arms. She half resisted. 

"Janet/' he murmured, "I can't bear it any more. 
Come away with me to-night, never mind anything 
. . . scandal . . . smash everything . . . never mind. 
You will ... you will if you love me." 

For a moment she surrendered herself, and he 
thought that she returned his kiss, but she freed 
herself. 

"No, Dick, one's got to be very sure of oneself 
before one smashes everything." Before he could 
stop her she had run up the steps. She went lightly, 
and a silken rustle followed her for a moment, then 
was heard no more. 



Chapter IX 
Ghosts 

BXJLMER did not at once realize that he might 
fail to gain Janet. The idea of failure was un- 
familiar to him, and, as a rule, where other men 
would have glimpsed defeat, he saw only difficulty. 
Hence often his victories. He had created himself 
as the British created the Empire, by sitting on 
things and obstinately staying there, however hard 
other people might push, by failing to understand, 
half out of stupidity, that the enemy had scored a 
victory. In the end the enemy, weary of victorious 
but fruitless struggles, had given way and left the 
British Empire standing, and Bulmer in power. 

So he construed Janet's attitude as evasiveness, 
to which he knew women were given. He felt that 
she might be trying to rouse his jealousy through 
Houghton, and though he was surprised that such 
a woman should so condescend, he was too well- 
assured that all women are alike to deny her the 
tendency to provoke. He laughed a little as he 
went to bed that night. He felt secure because, 
obviously, he could not be beaten by a twopenny 
major. He thought, "So, you're leading me on!" 
and tolerant joy came over him; why should Janet 
lead him on unless she wanted him? He loved her 

367 



"$ CALIBAN IS 

the more for this futility, this childishness. She 
was a real woman, then. And as a real woman she 
must be treated. He thought, "I must make you 
jealous." Hence his rather public affair with Lady 
Eggington. She was a little older than she had 
been when at Bargo Court she gained the admira- 
tion of Mr. Felton, but she was still creditable, 
well known, and left very free by a husband whose 
dreams were filled with stearine and spermaceti. 
For a week or two Bulmer enjoyed taking her about. 
Once, when they were riding in the Row, they met 
Janet, who had as escort two naval men, who rode 
very badly, but rode all the same, as is the way of 
naval men. They acknowledged one another, and 
Bulmer found no significance in Janet's grave smile. 
They were faintly hostile that morning. It was 
almost as intimate as being lovers. But the meeting 
ended the Eggington affair; Bulmer could not resist 
comparison, and as Janet passed, careless, on her 
bay, flushed, the broad-brimmed bowler ridging her 
thick, dark hair, so bright, so dewy, her firm, gaunt- 
leted hands held high, Lady Eggington suddenly 
suggested the hothouse, the circus. Her stock was 
too fashionable, the pommel of her riding-crop too 
ornate. She sickened him. He felt that she bathed 
in eau de cologne; he wanted his soap-and-water 
nymph. 

But even so he maintained his plan. He was 
seeing Janet once or twice a week, found her aloof, 
as if troubled, sometimes rebellious when he tried 
to touch her, sometimes, as if remorseful, inclined 
to offer caresses that hinted at surrender, yet with- 
held it. She disturbed him. She increased his lone- 

868 



it 
t't 

a 



*K GHOSTS ^ 

liness. Once, unable to bear any longer his emo- 
tional isolation, he dined with Vi, and, on her per- 
suasion, went back with her to Finchley to have a 
drink, as she put it. He discovered with surprise, 
as he sat for a moment in the drawing-room, that he 
liked being with Vi. The drawing-room was well 
arranged; the lights were soft and pink-shaded. Vi 
did not look forty-nine; being dark, she had worn 
well, and that night, by good fortune, she wore a 
frock of champagne crepe-de-chine that toned in 
with her broad, olive shoulders. After a time she 
aid: 

Dick, do you know you've never seen the house." 
Why, you're right, I haven't." 
Let me take you round." 

He followed her, saw the dining-room, praised the 
Cromwellian table. He followed her up-stairs, where 
were various bedrooms, she switching on the lights 
and he switching them off. It was curiously conj ugal, 
this sharing of labor. So intimate was this feeling 
that he entered her bedroom without disturbance. 
The room was cerise, still cerise, and a little gush 
of sentiment invaded him. She still liked cerise. 
At last he said: " It's getting late. I must go." 

Vi stood before him, knotting and unknotting her 
dark hands. Fortunately, again, that night she 
wore no jewels, except her wedding-ring. The light 
was very faint, and through her eyelashes he caught 
for a moment the humid look that had drawn him 
twenty years before. The time-machine was turning 
him back into the past. So he said, "You haven't 
changed much." 

She smiled at him, and was wise enough to make 

369 



TB CALIBAN H 

no reference to the long estrangement. She merely 
stood before him in woman's most appealing atti- 
tude, ready to give, ready to forgo, as man might 
will. Only she took a little step toward him. The 
thought of Janet passed through his brain. He 
thought, "If Janet knew!" Then, "Perhaps it 
would be better if she knew." But almost at once 
his capacity for thinking disappeared. He was con- 
scious only of his illusion. He took Vi in his arms, 
and kissed the dark lips that yielded to him coolly. 
It was as if he grasped a scented despair; he was 
hers as he had never been. Vi made on him no emo- 
tional demand; she was physical, obvious, and, in 
this conjugal possession, he abdicated. The heavy 
warmth of her arms, the quick, hard breath that rose 
from her deep bosom, all united to make her into 
abstract woman fit only for ardor. As she pressed 
her lips to his it was as if he were suffocated in a 
gas of incredible sweetness. 

Yet, two hours later, as he lay awake listening to 
the heavy breathing of his wife, and stared at the 
panels of the wardrobe that shone in the faint moon- 
light, he was conscious of failure. 

He told himself, "It will be difficult." What had 

he done? He had compromised himself . . . with his 

wife. Could a man fall into worse error? But he 

was practical still, and told himself: "I've been a 

fool. Only, I might have been a fool with somebody 

else, and it wouldn't have mattered." He could 

still see his wife's profile. She lay with parted lips, 

not unbeautiful, in the faint light, his mate if they 

had been beasts. He wondered what dreams passed 

under that low, olive forehead. He knew that she 

370 



% GHOSTS H 

did not content him, that she merely satisfied a need 
which she had not created. With a sigh he lifted 
the thick, downy arm, that lay across him, and, 
turning upon his side, soon was asleep. 

With sudden indiscretion, next day, he told Janet 
what had happened. It was as if he wanted to pro- 
voke her, but he was angry when she said: 

"Well, why not? Why don't you go back to your 
wife?" 

"You know quite well I can't do that. Only, if 
you shut me out of your life, what am I to do?" 

"I'm not shutting you out, but how can I take 
you into it if I'm not sure that I want you there? 
Oh, I know it might happen, but would you like 
me to be the memory of a night . . . like your 
wife?" 

"Janet!" He was shocked; then, offense turn- 
ing to pain, he said, "Do you really think that's 
how I look upon you?" 

"No." She took his hand, rather ashamed. "I 
didn't mean that. Don't talk about it any more 
just now." 

"Where's Houghton?" 

"At Bassora. Bat don't talk about him, or you, 
or me. Must it be true that a man and a woman 
can't be friends, even when it's a man like you?" 

"I'm a man like any other man. But I'll never 
stop wanting you." 

"Oh," she said, "if only you were not you, how 

I should love you!" She laughed. "What nonsense 

I talk! Of course, if you weren't you and I loved 

you I wouldn't love you." 

Bulmer had no time to penetrate more deeply the 

371 



^ CALIBAN ji? 

emotional complexity of his situation. Already, 
that day, he had missed a conference. He told 
Janet, and she said, "Dick! what a tribute." 

"It's all very well," he said, "but I ought to have 
been there." 

Indeed, just then, he was preoccupied by the re- 
sponsibilities he had created for himself. Hating 
Mr. Asquith, because his nimbleness automatically 
revolted against the slowness of the Yorkshireman, 
because he found in the Premier an almost wilful 
lack of imagination, he supported him as a Liberal 
must, and strove to supplant him by Escombe. He 
liked Escombe. There was in the short, wiry little 
Radical barrister something that appealed to him 
that was fitful as a light wind. He liked Escombe's 
incapacity to avoid action. For twenty years he 
had seen him establish apparently impossible situa- 
tions by promising everybody everything they 
wanted, and then, confronted with the results of his 
cleverness, erect a series of bogies, demonstrate to 
the holders of his pledges that only for their good 
was he breaking those pledges. The sight of Escombe 
was pleasant to him; the broad forehead, about 
which the black hair, spattered with gray, stuck out 
in wisps useful to Bernard Partridge and F. C. G., 
the irregular, pugnacious nose, the evasive chin, and 
faintly amused mouth under the heavy mustache. 
He often talked with Escombe, and always came out 
soothed and flattered, for the gray eyes, rather with- 
drawn beyond the pocketed eyelids and the close- 
hanging, heavy brows, always conveyed to him, 
" Lord Bulmer, I couldn't do without you." Bulmer 
never suspected that everybody who met Escombe, 

372 



■g GHOSTS **? 

whether peer or labor leader, felt the same thing. 
He had not enough subtlety to understand the sub- 
tlety of Escombe, and whenever he went to the 
Minister, demanding that this or that should be 
done, he found when he came out that something 
else had been done, which looked exactly like his 
original proposal, but was in some intangible manner 
different. Buhner bullied people into things; Es- 
combe tripped them into things. Sometimes Buhner 
wondered whether he was being wangled, as, for 
instance, in the matter of war economy and the 
import trade. Being a simple man, he tried to ex- 
plain to Escombe that if we went on importing com- 
modities we must pay for them; therefore we must 
spend money ; therefore we could not practise econ- 
omy. But Escombe said: 

"I quite agree with you, my dear Bulmer. You 
put it with a lucidity that is unfortunately rare now- 
adays. Only, you see, failing imports you cannot 
export; failing exports you make no profits. Fail- 
ing profits you have nothing to economize with. 
Therefore, the more you import the more you ex- 
port, the more profits you make. Therefore, the 
more you spend the more you have. That, I take 
it, is your meaning?" 

"Not exactly," said Bulmer, puzzled. 

"Forgive me if I have misunderstood you," said 
Escombe, "I'm only trying to give a practical 
form to your views, with which I wholly sympa- 
thize. I take it that you want to press for facilities 
for free imports, do you not?" 

"Of course," said Bulmer, "I'm a Free Trader." 

"Good. So am I. I always was. Therefore you 

373 



& CALIBAN "$ 

will continue to preach reduction of expenditure? 
I shall be speaking on it to-morrow at Bradford." 

Bulmer went out a little later, entirely unable to 
understand what had happened. Escombe seemed 
not only to have committed him to two opposite 
views, but to have convinced him that he held both. 
Escombe had contributed nothing to the conversa- 
tion. He seemed merely to elucidate what Bulmer 
meant. In the end, Bulmer ceased to try to under- 
stand Escombe's policy. He even ceased to rebel. 
Hitting Escombe's policy was like hitting butter; 
it gave way to the fist, and closed round it in an 
affectionate grasp. 

So he went on, the old life of one exciting thing 
after another being converted into one exciting cam- 
paign after another. New men outlined themselves 
on his stormy horizon, and were overwhelmed by 
the next squall. For six weeks Sir Benjamin Martin 
was described as a skilful municipal administrator 
and made Materials Controller. Then it was dis- 
covered that all materials were already controlled, 
and that Sir Benjamin's principal function was to 
interpose another week's delay between the pro- 
ducer and the consumer. Also, his intervention 
caused materials completely to disappear. He dis- 
appeared, too, and Rob made a cartoon of his funeral, 
where the Cabinet was represented as mourners 
with tall hats tied with weepers of red tape. The 
war went on, and Bulmer enjoyed it. He met Cleve- 
don, the young war painter, an ex-Cubist, who had 
discovered that the vision of the times is the world 
seen from an airplane. Clevedon was given a Daily 

Gazette one-man show. Life was filled with inter- 

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■g GHOSTS jB 

views, with the rise and fall of reputations, and meet- 
ings were held at Upper Brook Street, copies of the 
minutes being then sent through the usual route as 
peremptory advice to the Cabinet. 

Early in January, 1917, about two hours after the 
"all clear," Bulmer woke to the persistent ringing 
of thq telephone by his bedside. He did not reply 
for a moment. Then, quietly, "Yes, of course it's 
a great shock." Then again, "Oh, of course, of 
course." 

"My poor Dick," said Janet, a few hours later, 
putting an arm round his shoulders with sisterly 
affection, "Of course I know . . . but still, after so 
many years ..." 

"Oh, don't let's be sentimental," said Bulmer, 
who shook himself free and walked about the room. 
"I don't say that if I could have prevented it I 
wouldn't have done so, but when there's an air raid 
some people must be killed." 

"Dick," said Janet, after a moment, as she picked 
up The Day, which was lying on an arm-chair, "do 
you think you need have made so much of it in the 
paper?" 

"What's the matter with it? Death of Lady 
Bulmer. Little biographic notice. What else could 
the paper do?" 

"Oh, I don't say. Still..." 

Janet did not like to explain to the presumably 
stricken husband, notoriously separated from his 
wife, that it might have been in better taste to avoid 
such detailed references to her. 

"I don't know what you mean. I'm pretty well 
known. Supposing it'd been Lady Northcliffe had 
25 375 



°g CALIBAN H 

been killed in an air raid, do you think there' d have 
been nothing about it in the papers?" 

"You don't understand/' said Janet. 

"No, I don't. It's news." 

She smiled. "Oh, Dick, you're incorrigible." En- 
couraged by her smile he snatched her hand. 
"Janet," he whispered, "perhaps I oughtn't to say 
so just yet, before . . . before she's buried, bat I'm 
free. I know I ought not to say it now." 

"Oh, don't be ridiculous," she replied, "you're 
being conventional. You didn't mind making love 
to me when your wife was alive, and I suppose you 
won't mind doing it after the funeral. Why should 
you sacrifice three days as a decent interval?" 

She puzzled him, but he did not release her, and 
merely repeated: 

" I'm free. In a few days I'll come to you, and then 
you'll have to answer me. Oh, I know there are 
things you don't like in me, but what's the use of 
liking everything in people? There's no merit in 
loving if one does that." 

"Dick," she cried, opening her eyes very wide, 
"you're getting subtle." She laughed, "I've said 
that before, the first time we met." 

"One gets all sorts of funny ideas when one's in 
love. I'd do anything in the world for you. Oh, 
I know I'm not much. I'm like my papers. My 
papers and I, we appeal to the lowest people because 
there are more of 'em. But what's low? What's 
high? You don't know. Standing here in London 
we think Australia's under our feet. But the Aus- 
tralians think it's we are under theirs. When I want 

a feature, or a placard, I put up the heat wave, or 

376 



Tg GHOSTS jE 

the holiday exodus, or get up a beauty competition, 
or I print the story of her life by a woman who's had 
seven husbands. You call that low, I suppose. But 
what do you think would happen if you put on my 
placard, 'Redemption of the Floating Debt'? Or, 
'Startling Ornithological Discovery?' If I did that 
I'd be appealing, not to the high, but to the high- 
brow. I'm a second-rate man. He cuts more ice 
than the first-rate man. He's like Napoleon, nearer 
to the earth, nearer to the common people. When 
I print paragraphs about the cinema, or the price of 
season tickets, or a clear statement on the difference 
between wistaria and hysteria, when I interest in a 
single issue the Wigan office-boy on his way to the 
football ground and the suburban baby in its pram, 
I feel like the old ravens that brought his morning 
eggs and bacon to Elias, or Elijah, or what's his 
name. William Whiteley doesn't get beyond things 
you can eat and things you can wear. I'm the uni- 
versal provider of human interest. I can't help 
human interest being what it is." 

"I won't argue with you," said Janet. "You 
always seem right, and somehow that always con- 
vinces me you're wrong. Things are not what they 



seem." 



"That's where you're wrong. Things are what 
they seem. And, anyhow, what's it matter what 
they are if they don't seem it? You'll never know. 
But don't let's bother about that. I can only think 
of one thing, and that's you." He tried to take her 
in his arms. 

"No, please don't, Dick. Not now. I'm too miser- 
able." 

377 



T8 CALIBAN H 



u What's troubling you?" he asked, anxiously. 

"Oh, I don't know; the war and that sort of thing. 
Here we are, 1917, and it may last years. I'm so 
tired of it." 

"Tired of it?" asked Bulmer. "What do you 
mean? " 

"I'm war- weary." 

"Nonsense," said Bulmer. "The war's got to be 
won, so how can anybody be tired of it? I never 
met anybody who was war- weary." 

She smiled. "That's because you aren't war- 
weary yourself. You believe everybody's like you." 

He was not listening. "Janet," he said again, 
"we're talking of all sorts of things except the only 
one that matters. Tell me? Do you care for any- 
body else?" 

"No," she replied, and was honest, though her 
eyes seemed shifty. 

"You haven't promised Houghton?" 

"He's in Mesopotamia." 

"You aren't answering me." 

"No, I haven't promised him any more than you. 
But I won't be badgered. Let me go." She released 
herself. 

"I don't understand," said Bulmer. 

And he seemed so sad that she almost answered 
him, then hesitated, and he went away. 



Chapter X 
The Cruise of the "Gazetteer" 

AT breakfast, a certain amusement mixed with 
/* Janet's preoccupation. Jack, now nearly five, 
was rather troublesome, and disturbed her medita- 
tions. From time to time he remarked, "May I 
have a bit of sugar? " Then, on being told that there 
was a war on, and therefore only one bit for every 
cup, he delivered pronouncements. 

"I'm tired of the war. When there's a war one 
can't get sugar. I like sugar. I don't like war. 
When the war's over I'll have as much sugar as I like." 

" Don't talk so much/' said Janet. 

"I'm only talking to myself, Mummie. Mummie, 
may I have another bit of sugar?" (Gloomily): 
"No, I suppose one can't have sugar when there's 
a war on. But I do like sugar." 

"You'll have breakfast in the nursery if you don't 
stop talking," said Janet. She went on with her 
breakfast, smiling now and then to herself and occa- 
sionally suppressing Jack, who maintained a mnning 
undertone : 

"Cook says eggs are sixpence each. She says that 
milk is going to be sixpence a quart. I wonder 
which is nicest, an egg or a quart of milk? " ^Loudly) : 
"Mummie, what's a quart?" 

"A quart is twice a pint, Jack, and a pint is twice 

w 379 



« CALIBAN 






a glass. And there's one glass extra in a quart. 
Now," added Janet, subtly, "you just try and think 
how many glasses go to the quart." With a grin of 
triumph she went on with her breakfast, and Jack 
said not another word; to the end he underwent the 
most horrible mathematical convulsions. 

After receiving a kiss made adhesive by egg and 
marmalade, Jack was removed by his nurse, to whom 
he vainly put problems regarding quarts and glasses 
of milk, while Janet once more took up the Daily 
Gazette. She was smiling. Really, Dick was delight- 
ful and absurd. One couldn't be angry with him. 
Could one love him? She considered for a moment. 
She felt fit to understand her own destiny; cold- 
bathed, well-exercised by an hour in the Row, suffi- 
ciently fed, her body clad in pleasantly fitting clothes, 
she was released. Her mind was free, and she 
thought, "What am I going to do?" She felt to- 
gether young and old; young in experience, old in 
perplexity. She thought: "I suppose I can't go on 
like this forever. I'm twenty-nine, and one can only 
go on forever if one's sixty. At twenty-nine things 
have got to change." She looked about her at this 
comfortably furnished dining-room that represented 
her so well; bowler and riding-crop flung on the 
couch, bookcase crowded with books. There were a 
number of novels by Hewlett, Hardy, and Bennett, 
an intellectual conglomerate which represented her 
fairly well. She had Shaw's collected plays, also the 
plays of Galsworthy and Barker; many essays by 
Chesterton and Lucas; with these, unexpected con- 
trasts: Thorold Rogers and Lord Acton, Anatole 
France almost complete, and Marius the Epicurean. 

380 



*8 CRUISE OF THE "GAZETTEER" *» 

No poetry. Catholicity and chaos. Open-minded- 
ness and uncertainty. 

She thought: "Married too early. I suppose a 
mother too early, and some would say widowed too 
early. But they didn't know my husband. What 
a beast I am! I oughtn't to think that. But, after 
all, that's past; what next? I could become older, 
and sweeter, and more motherly, and be anxious 
when Jack gets the measles, and buy his boots when 
he goes to school. And then he'll go to Osborne and 
sail away. Or to South Kensington, and become an 
engineer, and go away. Or to anywhere else, and 
marry somebody else and go away. And I'll be 
thirty, and I'll be forty. And I may be a lot more; 
my people die hard." She sighed, and her thoughts 
grew irrelevant : "Missing! Why don't I feel worse 
about it? Just one line missing. Houghton, Charles, 
Maj. R.F.A. And in Mesopotamia! Dead or a 
prisoner of the Turks!" 

She wondered why she did not cry, why she could 
recall the moment when Houghton had practically 
declared himself, and when by tacit agreement they 
had decided to speak no more of their community 
until the war was done. With a certain surprise 
she asked herself : " Is it Dick? Would I love Charlie 
if I didn't love Dick?" And her horrible clarity of 
mind made her add, "Would I love Dick if I didn't 
love Charlie?" She wondered if woman was ever 
so rent by twin and equal passions. It was so diffi- 
cult to resist Dick! This last affair! Well, really i 
She took up the Daily Gazette again and decided to 
read the whole account. It ran as follows, under 
enormous head- lines: 

381 



°& CALIBAN 






CRUISE OF THE GAZETTEER 

GERMAN CRUISER TORPEDOED BY DAILY GAZETTE 

SUBMARINE 

FULL ACCOUNT OF THE MOST DARING EXPLOIT 
OF THE WAR 

By Lord Bulmer 

On the 5th of March, 1917, at 6.30 p.m., one of the most power- 
ful engines of destruction devised by the most cunning brains 
in the service of the Kaiser was sent to its reckoning. The 
cruiser Wurzburg, of which full technical description, plan, and 
picture will be found on page six, and of which it is enough to 
say that she was of 22,000 tons burden, was launched only last 
December, and was capable of developing a speed of 37 knots, 
has been sunk by the Daily Gazette. 

It had too long been apparent to me that the condition of 
naval stalemate which prevailed in the North Sea should not 
prove insuperable to audacity combined with ingenuity. There- 
fore, anxious to arouse the British Admiralty from its profound 
slumbers, I determined to demonstrate by action that German 
patrol boats, German mine-fields, and German watchfulness 
could be made unavailing by intellect and courage. I have run 
the German blockade; is the Admiralty too blind, as well as 
too sleepy, to take a leaf from my book? 

Then followed an amazing story. It appeared 
that at the end of 1916 information came to Bulmer 
which gave, more or less clearly, the position of the 
German mine-fields protecting Hamburg and Kiel. 
After considering whether he should hand this over 
to the Admiralty, he was held back by the memory 
of previous communications — the Admiralty always 
promised to give the matter their attention and 

382 



*g CRUISE OF THE " GAZETTEER" « 

never did so. He therefore decided to make use of 
the information himself, and to become a belligerent. 
He first attempted to purchase a submarine, but 
this proved impossible, partly because the request 
for a license would either have been refused or 
would have exposed his plans, partly because the 
vessel would have been stopped in the North Sea 
by the British patrols. The Daily Gazette group 
therefore decided themselves to go into the business 
of ship-building, and a complete naval yard was 
purchased from a Dutch firm on the Zuyder Zee. 
There the Gazetteer was built, fitted with four tor- 
pedo tubes, provided with an American crew, headed 
by an expert American officer called Captain Antro- 
bus. Then, laden with stores, her bunkers full of 
oil, stimulated by the promise of five thousand 
pounds for the captain and five hundred pounds for 
every man, the Gazetteer set out. 

Captain Antrobus told his story with a sufficient 
journalistic touch. He took three days to reach 
Cuxhaven, for he was first of all chased by a Dutch 
destroyer, who had caught the Gazetteer in territorial 
waters. But Captain Antrobus submerged off Texel 
and, coolly doubling, passed under his pursuer's keel. 
Emerging, he skirted the Dutch coast, and, having 
made up as U-73, which Bulmer knew to be overdue, 
the Gazetteer was not molested by some German 
scouts. But the mine-fields proved a terrible 
business. 

"Much to my disappointment/' wrote Captain 
Antrobus, "I found that the chart with which I 
had been provided was either inaccurate or out of 
date. On approaching the commercial channel which 

383 



•8 CALIBAN ]B 

I expected to find in the mine-field, I nearly ran into 
a chain of anchored mines. It was then seven o' clock 
and beginning to grow dark. To hesitate was im- 
possible, as this would have meant going back to 
our starting-point. I therefore decided to dive under 
the mines. At 7.30 we submerged, and, making for 
the bottom, fortunately discovered that the mines 
were laid across a sand-bank, the contact of which 
was not likely to damage the hull. I therefore pro- 
gressed about four hundred yards, at about four 
knots. At 7.22 I encountered an obstruction. This 
turned out to be an entanglement of wire hawsers, 
from which it is evident that the Germans had 
learned something from Holbrook's dive under the 
Dardanelles mine-field. I therefore returned to the 
surface and found myself, at 7.55, once more opposite 
what I assumed to be the mine-field, which I skirted 
until 8.30 without finding a channel. 

" At this stage I realized that the only thing to do 
was to take my chance and sail straight through the 
mine-field. This I did without mishap, though of 
course progress had to be slow. I reached safe 
waters at dawn, only to find myself confronted by 
five German destroyers, who promptly opened fire. 
To stay in this neighborhood would have been fatal, 
as this would have invited the dropping of depth- 
charges. I therefore submerged, and, xoorking my way 
back to the mine-field, made for the bottom. I felt 
assured that the destroyers would not drop depth- 
charges there, as they would not want to detonate 
their own mine-field, and would assume that if I 
went near it I should be destroyed." 

Janet knew by now enough about war to realize 

384 



°£ CR UISE OF THE " GAZETTEER" 15 

why these words were printed in italics. The in- 
credible gallantry of this move thrilled her. She 
had a vision of the Gazetteer slowly sinking down 
through the mine-strewn water, taking its chance 
of escaping contact with the mines, and at last 
resting upon the sand, surrounded backward, for- 
ward, right and left, and above, by great round 
objects which to touch was destruction. 

Then it seemed that, after six hours, with infinite 
care, Captain Antrobus emerged, taking his chance 
of the mines, and, by a stroke of luck, he found the 
gate open, presumably because a vessel was about 
to leave the harbor. He reached the Cuxhaven booms 
just before dark, passed unobserved under the stern 
of the guardship, and discharged four torpedoes, 
of which one was seen to take effect on the Wurzburg, 
while the other three went wide. 

"In less than thirty seconds," said Captain Antro- 
bus, "the whole port was blazing with light. Vereys 
and blue lights went up from, I think, thirty or 
forty vessels, and a number of searchlights were 
turned on us, fortunately missing us, thanks to the 
proximity of a pillar-buoy which was evidently taken 
for our periscope, and in a few seconds was smoth- 
ered in a hail of shells." 

Apparently, in the disorder, the guardship, in- 
stead of maintaining her nose toward the booms, 
turned slightly as if to block the fairway. During 
this maneuver the Gazetteer slipped past her, and 
within four hours reached the mine-field. She went 
through as before, taking her chance. 

"I thought I was safe," said Captain Antrobus, 
"and I should have been if I had not been picked 

385 



*g CALIBAN « 



up by four seaplanes, who proceeded to drop bombs, 
but the water proving opaque, they lost track of me, 
and I suffered no damage. Still, I thought it advis- 
able to double back to the mine-field, where I lay 
submerged for four hours in what might be called a 
slightly delicate situation. As, however, on sub- 
merging, I took the not unreasonable risk of opening 
one of my oil-tanks, the German seaplanes presum- 
ably concluded that one of the bombs must have 
taken effect, for the stain of oil which formed in the 
vicinity still persisted when I came up. Indeed, the 
seaplanes had disappeared. For the rest it was a 
good journey. My foreman artificer informed me 
that, for the first time in his life, he had avoided 
seasickness." 

Janet put down the paper, and laughed aloud. 
Of course Buhner was making the most of the affair 
in typical Bulmer fashion; the life history and ex- 
perience of Captain Antrobus filled a column; his 
second in command was likewise treated. There 
were pictures of the sheds where the Gazetteer was 
built; the eighth page was filled with photographs 
of members of the crew, of the Gazetteer emerging, 
of plans and sections of the submarine, and its vic- 
tim, the Wurzburg. There was even a photograph 
of the statement issued on the subject by the German 
Admiralty. This statement declared that the Wurz- 
burg had been blown up by an internal explosion, 
but the Daily Gazette photographer had snapped the 
sinking ship by means of the Germans' own search- 
lights, which also showed on a warehouse the words, 
Allgemeine Elektrizitaets Gesellschaft. The evidence 
was absolute. The audacity of it! In that moment 

386 



j? CRUISE OF THE "GAZETTEER" jg 

Janet did not consider the gallantry of Captain 
Antrobus and his crew. The affair struck her as 
eventually it struck London; it seemed a delicious 
piece of cheek. The impression was maintained 
through the next two days. Embarrassing questions 
were asked in Parliament, and the First Lord had 
great difficulty in maintaining a dignified front, 
when persistently questioned by Mr. Pemberton 
Billing, who wanted to know why the Admiralty 
hadn't done this long ago. The First Lord repelled 
every question by stating that a reply would not be 
in the public interest, but grew uncomfortably hot. 
As for the Attorney-General, he was persecuted with 
requests to prosecute Buhner the buccaneer as a 
filibuster. He, too, was much annoyed, for he would 
have liked to hang Buhner, and when the irrepressible 
journalist printed an article in The Day, demanding 
the resignation of the First Lord because he had 
neglected his duty by leaving his work to be done 
by a civilian, and declared that in future he would 
call himself Lord Buhner of Wurzburg, the Admiralty 
decided that it must do something. So it attempted 
a seaplane raid on Emden, from which only one 
'plane returned. Then Buhner printed a leaded para- 
graph, on which he elaborated. 

" I go out alone and I sink a cruiser. The Admiralty 
sends sixteen 'planes and loses the lot." Finally the 
government adopted the victory. Captain Antrobus 
was personally congratulated by the First Lord, 
given the C.M.G., and told that he would always 
be welcome in England. After all, it was impossible 
to hang him. Buhner was very happy. He gave his 
staff a week's pay and presented to their children 

387 



*g CALIBAN *8 



a silver mug inscribed, "Wurzburg, 5th March, 
1917." The only thing that annoyed him was that 
Janet was inclined to laugh. 

"I don't see the joke," he said, aggrieved. "If 
ten people did as much as I have the war wouldn't 
last long." 

"Dick," she said, "as usual, you're incorrigible." 
And wondered whether one could love a child of 
forty-seven in any way except as a child. He was, 
she realized, not grown up, and it was perhaps this 
need for a protective mind held her away from him 
and fastened her to the tragic memory of Charles 
Houghton, humorous, ironic, and perfectly ripe in 
spite of his youth. Perhaps, because now Houghton 
was dumb, she felt that she must give herself to him. 
She hated her own femininity, which bade her turn 
away from the tangible to the fictitious. She 
thought: "Why am I like this? Dick loves me. In 
his way he's a great man, audacious, original, ruth- 
less, direct. He annoys me because he lacks finesse. 
I'm a fool; one asks finesse of a razor, not of a sledge- 
hammer." Then she thought of Houghton, dying 
of thirst, perhaps, in a sandy ravine, and tears came 
to her eyes. She wept, then, as she thought of his 
thirst in that golden sand, under a scarlet sun flam- 
ing in a purple sky, and, as she wiped her eyes, she 
thought that to slake that thirst she would weep 
every tear of her body. 



Chapter XI 
Power 

THE uncertainty of Janet's attitude wrought in 
Buhner a certain despair. Opposition he could 
meet; surrender he could take; uncertainty was 
something he could not understand and against which 
he was not armed. And his passion made him 
shrewd; he understood that pressure might lose his 
success, just as might negligence, so he abandoned 
the affair vaguely begun with Lady Eggington, to 
make Janet jealous. He even revised, his codes and 
reflected: "With another sort of woman that might 
work. But somehow I don't think it'd move her." 
He was learning about women, and now had enough 
wisdom to remain inactive. A conversation with a 
worldling almost led him to excess, for the world- 
ling, met in a club, joined his finger-tips and said: 
"Women are like cats. If you move toward them 
they run away, but if you sit there and say, 'Puss, 
puss, puss/ and put a saucer of milk on the floor, in 
due course they will be moved by curiosity to come 
and see what there is in the saucer. Then, click! 
you've got the cat by the back of the neck, so that 
it can't scratch you. When the cat has struggled 
enough and discovered that she can't get away, and 
been tickled behind the ear, she'll sit on your lap 
and purr. And then, ah, then you no longer need 

389 



*g CALIBAN ^ 

say, 'Puss, puss, puss!' You can say, 'You damn 
cat!' and she'll go on sitting there, purring." 

"The trouble is," thought Buhner, "that I don't 
know what sort of milk to put into the saucer." So 
far he had offered rank, wealth, and passionate love, 
and Janet had circled about him, not hostile, but 
troubled and doubtful. He tried treating her as a 
friend, with a blufTness that did not fit him, because 
he was not born in the bluff class. She fixed large, 
round eyes on him, and realized that he adopted 
manners in the same way as his newspapers adopted 
stunts. At last inaction became tedious, and once 
more he asked her to marry him. 

"I wish you wouldn't, Dick," she replied. "If I 
could just say no to you, it wouldn't be so bad. But 
all I can answer is that I can't say yes." 

Once more he went over his inadequacies, his 
acknowledged cultural inferiority. She grew im- 
patient. 

"Oh, I do wish you wouldn't hold me so cheap. 

What is the use of talking like that? Do you think 

I'm the sort of woman who'd care if you were 

seventy-five or a coal-heaver? The only way I can 

look at a man is to ask myself whether I love him 

or whether I don't. And if I happen to fall in love 

with a man of seventy-five, or with a coal-heaver, 

it would be no more strange than falling in love with 

a Greek god. You don't understand, Dick. One 

falls in love or one doesn't, and, if one doesn't, it's 

no use trying to find an elixir of youth for the old 

man or to wash the coal-heaver. If one falls in love 

nothing can be done; and if one doesn't, nothing can 

be done either." 

. 390 



°$ POWER ^ 

"Won't you risk it?" asked Bulmer. 

She was touched by this humility. 

"No, Dick, I won't risk it. It wouldn't be fair 
to you. You see, you'd share the risk. It would 
be awful for you if I made you unhappy as a wife 
when you'd expected so much." 

" Suppose I was Houghton?" 

She flushed. Really, his directness bordered vul- 
garity. "Please," she said, "let us leave Major 
Houghton out of this. You've worried me about him 
too often, and because you've wrung a few facts out 
of me, you . . . yes, you presume." 

"He asked you to marry him?" 

"I didn't say that." 

"No, but I know. I feel it. If it weren't for him 
you'd marry me. No doubt you're going to marry 
him." 

"I'm not going to discuss it." But she was stung 
by his false assumption, and added: "I don't say 
. . . Well, he did ask me, and I said to him the same 
as to you. He's all right, thank goodness, a pris- 
oner. We'll see when the war is done." 

Bulmer accepted the situation. He had not 
enough intuition to realize that Houghton, a prisoner 
of the Turks, was more dangerous than Houghton 
lunching at the Ritz, for he was a romantic figure, 
and so did not tell himself that he would beat him 
more easily when he came home. He merely told 
himself that the struggle was adjourned, and that 
when Houghton came back he would be beaten as 
other men had been beaten by the Bulmer who had 
faced Lord Immingham and twisted his policy, 
broken Sir Benjamin Martin, Edgeworth; this Bul- 
26 391 



« CALIBAN *g 

mer whose career was littered with broken men who 
had faced him, but never long. Excepting at inter- 
vals, his passion did not flare up, but carried him 
through his busy life as the low accompaniment of 
a song. In those days, when America had come in, 
when Rumania was being invaded on all sides, when 
the capitalist governments of the world were turning 
away from Kerensky, favoring the adventurer Kor- 
niloff, refusing to disclose their war aims because 
they feared to reveal themselves, when Frenchmen, 
Englishmen, Italians, were rifling the pockets of a 
drunken Europe, when the current of politics was 
at its most turbid, Bulmer was finding his power. 
The Bolsheviks had just seized Russia, exposed the 
secret treaties which had been made while deceived 
Wilson prated of justice. They revealed a world 
stinking as any saint, where self-determination meant 
the gerrymandering of German, Austrian, and Turk- 
ish territories, meant that every Naboth's vineyard 
the Allies coveted would vote for the Allies under 
the protection of Allied rifles. Then it was clear 
that France once more was out for revenge, that 
Italy once more was out for vanity, that England, 
as usual, was out for loot; then the three B's that 
make Empire — Beer, Bible, and Bayonet — were 
joined in symbolic panoply by Honi soit qui mat y 
pense, Dieu protege la France, and perhaps even 
E pluribus unum. The world had fallen into the 
claws of brutal cynicism, snaky finesse, and filthy 
gold lust; j^ nen the world was Bulmer' s — was 
Bulmer. 

He was happy in those days. Those were times 
when hate of reason ran high, when revenge was a 

392 



*8? POWER « 

holy duty, when the morality of the world had 
shifted east of Suez, " where there ain't no Ten Com- 
mandments. 5 ' One ceased to say, "Is it fair?" One 
said, "Will it hit the Hun?" One had set out to 
beat the Hun in the name of freedom; one was going 
to beat the Hun in the name of profit. So the Bul- 
mer mind was the mind of the times; excessive, 
ruthless, dramatic. In the early years of the war 
he had been feared. Now he was obeyed. If in '14 
he had said, "Hang the prisoners," the public would 
have been shocked; by degrees, because feelings 
grew vague, because life was cheap, because justice 
was complicated and revenge simple, because justice 
meant thinking, while revenge meant action, action 
only was taken as worthy. 

Buhner was in the councils of the government. 
He was not now content with snapping at the heels 
of Ministers and occasionally flashing his teeth. The 
political seeds sown by Swinbrook, and encouraged 
by Singleton and Ash, had now grown into tall 
weeds. He wanted to shape policy, and he was 
encouraged by Escombe, who, with characteristic 
craft, sent for him from time to time, asked his 
advice, and twisted his policy. It was Escombe 
induced him to take part in the shaping of the 
financial agreement between America and the Allies. 
He found Buhner difficult to manage because the 
newspaper proprietor conceived a simple idea; the 
Allies had supplied the men, let America pay the 
cost of the war. 

"See what I mean, Escombe?" he said. "Make 
a damn good head-line. British Boys and Ameri- 
can Dollars. No. No good. Too many letters 

393 



]8? CALIBAN *S? 

in it. What about British blood? Yes, they like 
blood nowadays . . . yes, Yankee gold. Rob'd do 
you a fine set of cartoons. Miss America giving a 
bag of dollars to a Tommy. And Miss America in 
a car made of dollars driving British officers in 
Flanders. Not brass hats. Public hates 'em!" 

"I quite agree with you/' said Escombe. "Only 
you have to take into account that America has also 
sent some men. If you could guarantee that the 
war would be over before the American troops came 
into play, I should be entirely with you. But my 
hesitation to forecast this makes me inclined to think 
that you yourself will want to revise your admirable 
idea. 

"Hum! ha, yes, I see what you mean. But what 
about a sliding scale? What about putting up three 
hundred a year per man? That's what he costs, and 
have a clearing-house at the end? Like that, if 
America put up a million men she'd be credited with 
three hundred million a year. France, with six mill- 
ion men, credited with eighteen hundred millions a 
year. Sort it out when the war's done." 

Escombe found him very difficult, because the 
Minister tended to financial schemes that could only 
be worked by experts, while Bulmer thought of 
schemes that could be understood by readers of the 
Daily Gazette. He floated a few of them, and so great 
was the noise that Escombe found himself compelled 
to adopt them in a modified form. But Bulmer was 
cautious enough to avoid traps. Thus, a banker 
came to him with a proposal to boom premium 
bonds. Bulmer hesitated. He was attracted by 
the idea of twenty-thousand-pound prizes and no 

394 



% POWER jK 

interest. Damn the interest. But he reflected that 
while independence was all right now, it might not do 
after the war, because after the war people wouldn't 
be allowed to be independent. So he temporized, 
sounding Escombe, and on discovering that the 
Treasury was framing a statement against premium 
bonds, seized upon references to the matter in an 
opposition paper and caused The Day and all the 
Gazettes to take a violent line against the bonds, 
which he described as an immoral gamble prejudicial 
to British credit. In due course, when the Treasury 
had settled whether a certain sentence in their 
declaration required two commas or three, Bulmer 
was able to announce that he had stopped premium 
bonds. A Liberal member of Parliament asked 
Escombe whether he took instructions from the 
Daily Gazette, and was called to order by the 
Speaker. The public had no illusions as to the sup- 
pressed reply. 

Indeed, as 1917 passed into 1918, the government 
became conscious of the growing cry against Bulmer. 
Through him the Cabinet was now being raked on 
two sides; the Liberal papers said that it took its 
orders from Northcliffe; the Conservative papers 
said that Escombe was a Jack-in-the-Box, and only 
came out when Bulmer took off the lid; the neutral 
papers said that government had been reduced into 
a tennis singles between Northcliffe and Bulmer, 
and that Escombe was the ball. A few of the wiser 
people agreed that so far this representation of 
Escombe was correct, but that both Bulmer and 
Northcliffe would miss the ball before they had done 
with the game. Then Escombe offered Bulmer a 

395 



H CALIBAN *g 

seat in the Cabinet. This did not happen until 
early 1918, because a portion of the Cabinet threat- 
ened to resign if Bulmer was admitted, while as 
many threatened to resign if he was not. At that 
time the Prime Minister was too much concerned 
with Russia to control his government, and so 
Escombe, for five months, had to arrange his com- 
mittees in such a way as to mix the two factions. 
For four months he managed to shelve the Bulmer 
question by creating a Defense Committee of three 
that resembled the sack into which the Sultan puts 
the discarded favorite with a cat and a snake before 
throwing the whole into the Bosphorus. The favor- 
ite, in this case Sir John Tibenham, the cat, Mr. 
Bentley, and the snake, Mr. D. Barnet, occupied 
the months in biting, scratching, or kicking, as was 
their nature. Escombe did not doubt that he could 
keep the Cabinet going in this way for many months, 
because the minor officeholders would go on trying 
to shift the major officeholders, while the latter 
would devote their energy to advertising themselves. 
Then he realized that Bulmer outside the Cabinet 
was more inconvenient than Bulmer inside. 

"You know," he said to his secretary, "I think 
we'd better have him in. We'd find him some job 
that looks simple and isn't. One might give him 
Ireland." 

The secretary laughed. "Yes, why not try him 
with Ireland?" 

"It's an idea," said Escombe. "You see, he 
never mentions Ireland in the Daily Gazette, and I've 
an idea that he'd bite if you offered him something 
new. He could paddle along for a few months. 

396 



« POWER *8 

One could always keep him quiet by mislaying his 
minutes if they got too bad." 

"Yes," said the secretary. "Of course, he'd want 
to put up a Home Rale bill, but I think one could 
persuade him to call a convention first. That would 
take time, and the result would be vague." 

"Yes," said Escombe, "that's it. And then when 
the war's done we'd let him put up his bill. After 
that, he wouldn't last a fortnight — at least that's 
my experience of the last thirty Home Rule schemes." 

Bulmer hesitated for a long time when offered a 
seat in the Cabinet. He realized that he would be 
very unpopular in the House of Lords, especially as 
Irish Secretary. It was very tempting. He'd be 
the biggest man in the Lords, bar the Lord Chan- 
cellor. He even told himself, "I wish mother was 
alive; it would serve her right." But, as he hesi- 
tated, Escombe made a mistake, and tried to per- 
suade him; Bulmer, growing as suspicious as when 
he was offered a constituency, suggested terms. 

"You know, if I take the Irish Secretaryship it 
wouldn't muzzle the Gazette, would it?" 

"Muzzle?" said Escombe, shocked. "My dear 
fellow, the press is free in this country." 

"Oh, is it!" said Bulmer, remembering the Press 
Bureau. "My man in Norwich tells me that your 
people blue-penciled a complete article of his and 
sent it in with the remark, 'Nothing of this may 
be printed except the title.'" 

Escombe laughed. "Oh, well, you know, it 
wouldn't be in the public interest ..." 

"I know all about that," said Bulmer. "That's 
what you all say in the House. It wouldn't be in 

397 



*g CALIBAN « 

the public interest for me to criticize the government 
if I was in it." 

"You wouldn't want to," said Escombe, suavely. 
"You'd have a share in making their policy. Al- 
ready you can see how you influence us." 

"Yes," said Buhner, suddenly enlightened, "I see. 
I'd be a rubber stamp on everything the govern- 
ment did. And if I said anything everybody' d say, 
' Then why don't you throw up the job?' No. Not 
for this child. Northcliffe has taken the American 
Mission, but that doesn't entangle him in policy, 
and it may be that his correspondents put him on 
to many a fact the F. 0. doesn't know, but you're 
offering me too much. You want to muzzle me by 
making me afraid to lose my seat in the Cabinet." 

Escombe argued for a long time, but he could not 
move Bulmer. The relations between the Minister 
and the newspaper proprietor were, at that time, 
rather peculiar. It was impossible to say whether 
Escombe used Bulmer for the performance of his 
private vendettas or whether Bulmer selected the 
victims so that Escombe might gracefully give way 
to public opinion. The general impression that Bul- 
mer ruled the Minister was rather superficial, for 
Escombe quite as often induced Bulmer to try a 
policy on the public as Bulmer came to him with a 
written scheme and asked him to put it into force. 
So it was unjust to clamor against government by 
newspaper. Occasionally Bulmer did, without con- 
sultation, force a policy upon the Cabinet, and like- 
wise, once or twice, Escombe asked him to give 
publicity to a view, but the truth lay between these 
extremes. Bulmer was too independent to be ruled, 

398 



« POWER H 

and Escombe was too slippery. Their alliance, in 
those days, was rather that of a burglar and his 
assistant; Buhner used the jimmy, and Escombe, 
with a thousand ears, detected every whisper in the 
public-houses from John o'Groat's to Land's End. 
This occasionally gave rise to apparent divergences. 
While the Daily Gazettes were raging for a reduction 
of the meat ration, Escombe was speaking at Dur- 
ham and cheering everybody up by tales of great 
stores of chilled beef. This because Escombe had 
heard one of the whispers : the miners were demand- 
ing an extra ration, and so he thought it well to give 
them a few words. He knew that the Daily Ga- 
zettes could next day turn a somersault. Escombe's 
political style did not consist in somersaults; it was 
more akin to skirt dancing. Still, there was between 
the two men a kinship of temperament; both were 
capricious, both unable to keep their hands off other 
people's jobs; both were convinced that they alone 
could give a policy its finishing touch, and neither 
let to-morrow know what was said to-day. Bulmer 
was given to smashing things, and Escombe to ignor- 
ing them, but in any case the things toppled. 
Escombe felt sure that when the time came some- 
thing would topple on Bulmer. 

There was a little trouble between them in April, 
when the German offensive was bending the British 
line on to Amiens, for Bulmer arrived early at 
Escombe's house with a complete set of posters, 
headed: "The Country Is in Danger." He de- 
manded that a mass levy be proclaimed, not only in 
Great Britain, but in every Dominion, and in India. 
Bulmer wanted the military age raised to sixty-five, 

399 



« CALIBAN °g 

the conscription of women, and the shutting down 
of all schools and institutions receiving children be- 
tween the ages of fourteen and eighteen; these, too, 
were to be conscripted. 

" Excuse me if I shave," said Escombe. "I've 
got a committee at 10.30. Very interesting. Yes, 
you have the situation well in hand. Very serious. 
I quite agree with you. You're printing all this in 
the Daily Gazette, I suppose, this morning?" 

"Well, no, not all of it. I wanted to see you 
first." 

"Um yes ... I don't think you go far enough." 

"What!" cried Bulmer, outraged by such a sug- 
gestion. 

"No. I think we ought to do everything you say 
and also close every business except munitions and 
food." 

"Oh, I say," replied Bulmer, "do you think the 
public'll stick it?" 

"You don't seem to know there's a war on," said 
Escombe. 

"Nonsense," said Bulmer. "Why go in for ex- 
treme measures if we don't need them?" 

"Perhaps you're right," said Escombe, "but, after 
all, your own ideas are rather extreme." 

"Well, I haven't published them," said Bulmer, 
aggrieved. "That's only my point of view." He 
became thoughtful. The extremism of Escombe had 
gone so much beyond his own that he felt over- 
whelmed by a new kind of extremism — namely, 
moderation. While Escombe went on soaping his 
face and carefully shaving, talking obvious nonsense 
about lowering the military age to fifteen, Bulmer 

400 



■g .POWER « 

grew more and more convinced that his own pro- 
posals had gone too far. They breakfasted together. 
Buhner lowered the military age to fifty-five. While 
Escombe manufactured more violence in the shape 
of an invasion of Holland, Buhner decided that those 
posters would be a mistake. They'd create panic. 
At last he went away, and when, a few days later, 
the consequences of the crisis proved merely to be 
a new comb-out and the raising of the military age 
to fifty-one, Buhner thought: "I'm glad I went to 
see Escombe that morning. He's excessive, that 
chap, sometimes. It's a good thing I pulled him 
round. Nobody knows what he'd have done if I 
hadn't calmed him down." He felt very powerful. 
He was shaping the Empire. 

As for Escombe, he said to his secretary: "Narrow 
shave that, narrow shave. If Buhner hadn't come 
to see me that morning, he'd have got himself into 
such a panic that I couldn't have panicked harder 
than he. And then how should I have brought off 
his reaction?" 



Chapter XII 
Hullo, Life! 

BULMER thought: "It's over. For a time. 
Guess it'll break out again by and by. The 
Allies are bound to quarrel. Natural, after all." 
His mind fastened on the complexities of the peace 
just made, on the extraordinary confusion in Europe. 
There it was, the peace. No fine sense of justice, no 
intuition even warned him that peace was sowing 
the seeds of war by enthralling Germans under 
Italians, Poles, Czechoslovaks; he saw no injustice 
in the forcible disruption of enemy states; he had 
learned no lesson even from modern history. The 
Daily Gazette in 1912 thundered that Serbia must 
have a port. The Daily Gazette of 1919 saw no 
reason why Austria should have a port. The Daily 
Gazette in 1913 clamored that the Rumanians must 
unite with their brothers in the Dobrudja, then en- 
slaved by the Bulgar. The Daily Gazette in 1919 
saw no reason why Germans should not be kept 
separate from their compatriots in East Prussia, 
enslaved under the Poles. So his conclusion was 
neither philosophic nor founded on historic expe- 
rience. He thought that war would break out again, 
because war always broke out — like smallpox. Yes, 
like smallpox : we'd got vaccination, and yet it broke 

402 



]8 HULLO, LIFE! *8 

out occasionally. And then everybody ran to the 
doctors to be vaccinated again. No doubt they'd 
all run to the League of Nations for an injection of 
anti-war serum. But smallpox broke out all the 
same. So would war. 

He thought: "Of course, there's Labor. Labor 
doesn't want war. At least, it thinks it doesn't. 
Everybody thinks they don't want war, and every- 
body does the things which bring it about. Labor'd 
be just the same. Even if they set up their precious 
Gild Socialism, I suspect the international iron- 
workers would make war on the international bakers 
to get bread from them under the most favored 
trade-union class." And he played with one of his 
few Utopian ideas. He imagined the last days of 
the world, when the temperature would have fallen, 
when the earth was almost as cold as the moon; when 
there were no insects; when the fish would lie frozen 
in the ice; when the birds would be dead as vegetable 
life vanished, and there were no seeds; when only 
strange animals, such as the polar bear and the blue 
fox, were maintaining their last generations by eat- 
ing one another, and when only men would survive 
by their ingenuity and their obstinate will to live. 
He glimpsed the last war, the last battalions of men, 
muffled in furs, each man carrying upon his breast 
the little electric stove that maintained his life. 
They would advance in the tunnels which they made 
under the snow with a service shaft-cutter. There 
would be a great, silent, white war, between men 
who had discarded the futile rifle and the outworn 
fifteen-inch gun, men armored with metal refractory 
to Ray 22, who would draw air through a neutraliz- 

403 



*8? CALIBAN *g 

ing reservoir, thus able to resist the poisoned gas 
that spread all over the earth from bombs dropped 
out of airplanes. The airplanes would not dare to 
approach the acrid fumes with which mankind sur- 
rounded itself nearer than six or seven thousand 
yards. And men would die, and die, and the snow 
would fall upon their tunnels and obliterate them. 
A Jones would invent a mask that no poison could 
penetrate, a Dupont a gas that no mask could stop. 
Jones would be knighted, and Dupont would get 
the Legion oVHonneur. And Ray 22 would be su- 
perseded as out of date. Buried in the warm 
bowels of the earth, men would kill by thought 
wave. 

He laughed. Or perhaps the world would be 
struck by a comet that now lay a million years away 
in another nebular system. Then the air would be 
rilled with flame, the volcanoes would belch molten 
lava, and the sizzling earth would vomit pungent 
smoke. Among the flames and the clouds men would 
still be fighting, incased in a new kind of asbestos 
armor, and swirl away, locked in hate, struggling, 
scorched figures, down into the caldrons of hell, and 
so disappear, charred, carbonized figures, their fingers 
at one another's throats. . . 

War, always war. They would fight for the last 
drop of water. And it was right. The last drop of 
water to the greediest gullet. Labor? Yes, there 
was Labor. He supposed he mustn't think about 
those things. He was a Labor man. Reflectively, 
Bulmer wondered why he hadn't gone Labor months 
before. He hadn't been able to resist it, in the end. 
Labor was so very much the latest thing. It was 

404 



°g HULLO, LIFE! *g 

fashionable; a whole lot of smart people, a couple 
of earls and three peeresses, had taken it up. But he 
realized that it wasn't quite that. He had begun on 
an impulse, when the Daily Mail, during the election, 
gave a column a day to the Labor party. He real- 
ized that this couldn't go on, that the Daily Mail 
was fundamentally a middle-class paper. So was 
the Daily Gazette, but he saw that, as wages rose — 
and they were rising — a new class of newspaper- 
buyers was going to demand news. There was no 
Labor daily. He saw that the middle class could not 
give him a circulation of more than a million a day, 
while there were four million trade-unionists. He 
hesitated a little on account of The Day. The Day 
was no longer the paper of generations of Mortimers; 
it was a nippy, up-to-date Day, with leaderettes and 
summaries of news, and dramatic accounts of par- 
liamentary proceedings. It was no longer The 
Yesterday, but it was not To-morrow. So Bul- 
mer determined, as he put it, to let The Day stew in 
its own cocoa. As for the Daily Gazette, he printed 
a poster: 

SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN 
WATCH THE DAILY GAZETTE 



He did not tell even Alford what this meant. The 
editor, as well as his staff, were for three days pur- 
sued by questions from the Cock, the Press Club, 
and other Fleet Street rumor exchanges. They did 
not know. 

" How's one to know what the boss is thinking?" 

405 



« CALIBAN IS 

asked Renton, the foreign editor. "It's something 
new. So how is one to forecast?" 

On the 5th of December all the Daily Gazettes 
advertised under large head-lines that the group had 
gone Labor. London would have been enormously 
excited if the cocaine case had not occupied it. Bul- 
mer missed this fact, but it was too late to get the 
Attorney-General to postpone proceedings for a 
week, so he did not quite make his effect. People 
said: "At it again! Same old weathercock." And 
several rivals in Fleet Street, who had never intended 
to go Labor themselves, were annoyed because Bul- 
mer had done so; he had done what they could have 
done if they'd wanted to, and he had known it was 
the thing to do. His conversion half proved that 
Labor was in the right. 

"Anyhow," said the editor of the Courier, "if it 
isn't the right thing, it'll become the right thing now 
that blighter's done it." The editor of the Courier 
was not quite right, for Buhner was in a rather false 
position. He found that he had quarreled with 
Escombe, because Escombe, after a long conference 
with his secretary, decided that, the war being done, 
this was the moment when Buhner would hang him- 
self. "I think he's done it," he said. "I think he's 
made his first mistake. If his papers were suitable 
for Labor men Labor men would have bought them 
long ago. Now he's trying to seduce them by adopt- 
ing their politics. No good. There are no Labor 
politics. There are only desires for more wages, 
more beer, and less work. The middle class is dif- 
ferent. It has got pohtics, which are summed up 
in keeping Labor down. So Buhner can preach Social- 

406 



« HULLO, LIFE! jB 

ism and water; it won't sell him an extra copy, and 
by ceasing to urge me to shoot strikers he'll lose 
three or four hundred thousand supporters." 

Escombe was right, for Bulmer found little sup- 
port in the Labor ranks. The honest leaders sus- 
pected him. They were willing to use him, but not 
to trust him; they felt that he had turned against 
his own side and that this might become a habit. 
One of them, an ex-schoolmaster, very extreme, who 
had just lost his seat, was acute enough to under- 
stand him. In an address to the party executive 
he said: "Buhner's taken up Labor because it's scor- 
ing, but within six months we'll be fighting Russia, 
establishing conscription; we'll be in the full blast 
of the reaction. That will be the latest, and Bulmer 
won't let the latest escape." 

The Labor leader was partly wrong, for, on this 
late day of June, Bulmer realized that he could not 
turn back. The last six months had been very diffi- 
cult; the miners' strike had not been troublesome, 
because photographs of impossible miners' cottages 
made effective copy, and because it was easy to 
draw sympathy from the public by describing the 
moist atmosphere in hot mines. But the Tube strike 
worried him because it immediately annoyed his 
readers, and anything that annoyed his readers 
annoyed him. And he lost himself in the confusion 
of Labor politics, in the rivalries between the Miners' 
Federation and its constituent unions, among the 
overlapping functions of the Labor party and the 
Parliamentary Committee of the Trade-Union Con- 
gress. Though he had engaged Labor experts, he 
found that they quarreled abominably, that he could 

27 407 



*g ^ CALIBAN ]B 

not trust the Socialist Labor Federation to represent 
correctly the British Socialist party. As for the 
British Workers' League and its extraordinary com- 
pound of decayed Toryism and sham Radicalism, he 
could not understand it at all. Once he said to 
Alford: "Oh, lor'! I don't say I wish we'd stayed 
plain Liberal, but it'd have been easier. This blasted 
Labor movement's full of people who believe in it, 
and so they backbite, and secede, and do one another 
down, as is the way of all honest men." 

But it couldn't be helped. And in a way it was 
fun. It had given him a new status; it had made 
him truly independent, by grouping round him the 
hatred of the old parties and the suspicion of the 
new. Rustington told him that Ibsen said that the 
strong man is the lonely man. This comforted Bul- 
mer a great deal. Also, he was flattered by the 
power which clung to him. It brought him in touch 
with eventful people. He even lunched with Presi- 
dent Wilson, who disappointed him. In common 
with the rest of the Liberal press he had set up a 
picture of the President as a sort of St. George, but 
what he lunched with was St. George, M.A. The 
President listened to him endlessly, bending upon 
him through kindly glasses a sharp, gray gaze. He 
seemed a benevolent, meek person, and only the 
tight mouth and long, flat chin made one suspect 
that he had obstinate convictions. When he talked 
the President seemed equally assured on idealism 
and on trade. He was interested in both, and did 
not find them clash. And he had downright ways of 
saying: "I don't think so. Your proposal would be 
repugnant to the moral sense of my country." Also, 

408 



°g HULLO, LIFE! *$ 



he quoted Tennyson, with an air of discovery. 
Buhner was plotting to interview him and to annex 
him for Labor. He realized that Labor feared the 
Greeks, but in the present state of things they would 
hardly say, "We fear Buhner even when he brings 
Wilson." Only the President seemed to know all 
about it, as if he had learned in Paris that everybody, 
from the vegetarians to the Jugoslavs, wanted to 
get hold of him. So he refused, saying in that dis- 
concerting, direct way: "No. If I issue a message 
I shall issue it to my countrymen." He was abso- 
lutely lucid, cruelly shrewd, and entirely incorrup- 
tible. From Buhner's point of view, about as com- 
fortable as a hair-brush in bed. 

Yet Bulmer greatly needed some reassurance, some 
satisfaction, if only of vanity. He was forty-nine, 
and his chances with Janet had not increased. 
Houghton had returned, released by the Turks soon 
after the armistice, but delayed by fever until the 
previous week. Janet, the day before, told him 
nothing. She fenced with him, and her voice was 
soft. He thought that she was melting to him; did 
not see that she wanted to spare him. They had 
rather a long argument, and Bulmer bluntly pointed 
out to her that she was thirty-one. 

"Well," she said, " one's got to be thirty-one some 
time. Of course I know that a woman, so long as 
she's marriageable, is always twenty-nine. But I'm 
thirty- one. It may be a mistake, but it's no 



crime." 



He pressed her, but she would not answer. The 
gray eyes were very soft, and a flush lay upon her 
cheeks; she seemed pretty and content. 

409 



°g CALIBAN TB 



ec 



Dick," she said, " perhaps . . ." Then she 
changed her mind, and a fleeting look of fear crossed 
her face. Abruptly, she added : 

" I want to see ' Hullo, Life ! ' Will you take me? " 

"Of course I will. What about to-morrow night? 

I'll get a box if I can. If not, as soon as I can get 



one." 






All right. I want to see ' Hullo, Life!' It's so 
much like our period to have a revue called like that, 
immediately after peace." 
Jolly up-to-date idea." 

Yes, I suppose so. I don't mean that. . . . Now 
that the war is over . . . and as that other song goes : 
' Won't we be in clover?' it'll be 'Rule Britannia' 
and 'God Save the King.'" 

"You're getting jolly patriotic." 

"Oh, I don't mean that. We sing 'God Save the 
King' in the same way as we go to church. Just 
like that. Only the title 'Hullo, Life!' it seems to 
mean so much more than it says. It means human- 
ity dancing in the park, where the grass is beginning 
to grow green on the brown places that the soldiers 
made when they were drilling. It says: 'This is 
the end. No more killing. Now, we that are alive, 
we hail life.'" 

"I don't see much to hail," said Bulmer. "I 
might ... if you chose." 

"Don't be silly," she said, hurriedly. "Ring me 
up when you've got the box." 

Bulmer secured the box by luck, and at a great 

price, from a seat speculator. "Hullo, Life!" was 

booked three weeks ahead. For a moment, as Janet 

leaned over the edge of the box, surveying the enor- 

410 



% HULLO, LIFE! *» 

mous audience, she was thrilled. They swarmed like 
ants; dark, male ants, and female ants in light 
colors, with white shoulders that shimmered under 
the crashing light. "Such a lot of them!" she whis- 
pered, with wide eyes, "still alive!" 

Bulmer did not say much. Seated a little behind 
her, looking at the slender neck upon which strayed 
the incurably untidy brown hair that delighted him, 
he was disturbed. There was something portentous 
in her absorption. It could not be "Hullo, Life!" 
— this revue like all other revues, with its silly imi- 
tations of actors, its tunes drawn from the rag-bag 
of defunct musical comedies, its incredibly idiotic 
young hero, and the perpetual girls in a row, all 
dressed alike, and all shouting, "No, not reely!" 
The only song that held this dramatic dust-heap 
together was "Hullo, Life!" which appeared at the 
end of the second act, and was sung in her melodious, 
hoarse voice by Gladys Champagne. Unexpectedly, 
it had a new rhythm. Already it was well known, 
and though the audience listened silently to each 
couplet, they took up the first words of the chorus 
and, by degrees, the voice of the singer was drowned: 

" Khaki boys and boys in blue, 
Have made Kaiser and Crown Prince rue 
The day they challenged Britain's might 
And saw the dachshund put to flight. 
And now we've got strikes every where, 
Whisky there's none, and beer is rare, 
Are we down-hearted? We say No! 
Hullo! Hullo! Hullo, Life! Hullo! 
What's vour answer? Cheerio! 
Hullo! Hullo! Hullo, Life! Hullo !" 

411 



"$ CALIBAN °g 

At each chorus the singing grew louder. It was 
silly and splendid. All these people, small people, 
light people, people in pain, people free at last, 
people full of hope, and people bereft, poured their 
emotion into these poor words, as well as they could 
saluted returning life. As the curtain went down 
to applause that would not stop, the last words of 
the chorus mixed with the decrepitation of the clap- 
ping. Janet turned toward Bulmer, her eyes bright, 
her mouth smiling, " Hullo! Hullo! Hullo, Life! 
Hullo!" she murmured. " Isn't it splendid? I'm 
so happy!" 

Bulmer put out his hand and took hers. For a 
moment she surrendered, clasping his fingers. Then, 
suddenly, a flush dyed her face and shoulders. She 
snatched her hand away; with a little wry smile, 
and eyes that seemed retracted, she said, in a hurried 
whisper : 

"I mustn't let you do that, Dick. I . . . I'm 
going to marry Major Houghton next month. I . . . 
I'm sorry." 

Bulmer did not reply, did not protest. Weari- 
ness fell on him, as if the years kept away by activity 
had tumbled upon his shoulders. For a moment, 
Atlas bent under the weight of earth. Janet said 
something. He did nob hear her. The curtain went 
up again; the third act was played, and he was 
numb. He did not know what he thought of. His 
pain resisted the harsh sounds. Janet had to take 
him by the elbow to make him get up, when at last 
the curtain fell. 

They went down the stairs. And Bulmer was 

412 



% HULLO, LIFE! *g 

hardly conscious of loss; rather of emptiness. In 
the theater the people were still singing: 

"Are we down-hearted? We say No! 
Hullo! Hullo! HuUo, Life! Hullo! 
What's your answer? Cheerio! 
Hullo! Hullo! Hullo, Life! Hullo! S 



Chapter XIII 
Caliban 

PORTMAN SQUARE lay white and gaudy. The 
last days of July, and round the south side the 
frequent passage of motor-cars that shone, highly 
glazed, distinguished by coronet or monogram. The 
pale light of the London sun fell like silver, and 
there was a sprinkle of dust upon the wood pavement. 
Such large houses. So solid. With so many windows 
in which bloomed so many pink geraniums and mar- 
guerites, below the fresh, striped blinds. For a 
moment Bulmer stared at the traffic of Orchard 
Street, that clustered black and busy about the 
corner of Selfridge's. For the first time he felt re- 
moved from life, as if he were dead and his ghost 
revisited familiar places; as if the public were for- 
eign to him as an ant-heap disturbed by his kick. 
Then, without emotion, he watched the last guests 
come out of the church in Baker Street, and, in- 
stinctively, as if he feared solicitation, walked round 
the square and turned up Gloucester Place. 

He did not want to talk to these people. He knew 
some of them. The recent scene was still fresh in 
his mind, but he pictured it without partizanship. 
He had behaved well. He had come to the wedding, 
answered salutations, shaken hands, and, with rather 

hard muscles, smiled — as some intricate marionette 

414 



<X& 



'g CALIBAN £ 



built in Freiburg by a clock-maker. Yet he felt 
guilty, for Janet had asked him to come to the re- 
ception, too. No, he couldn't do that. They had 
talked a great deal in the previous month, and, after 
a violent scene, in which he strove to impose his 
personality upon her emotions, he suddenly grew 
resigned. Like a woman who sees her hair grow 
gray, tries to dye it, by degrees realizes that the hair 
looks dyed, and lets it go. He was not reconciled, 
but he was acquiescent. And now, walking up 
Gloucester Place, his appearance formed an incred- 
ible contrast with his thoughts. Rather short, active- 
looking, with bright eyes and an intelligent, mobile 
mouth, he seemed under his excellent silk hat, in his 
excellent morning coat, with his excellently fitting 
trousers that just touched his white spats, a healthy, 
middle-aged man, master of himself and of part of 
the world. But he walked in a mist all the way up 
Gloucester Place. At the corner he hesitated; it 
would take him to Bickenhall Mansions, and, for 
a moment overcome by sentimentality, he thought 
he would go and look again at the place where once 
he had been so happy. But he told himself, "I want 
air/' and went on toward Regent's Park. But as he 
stood by the pond, where the waterfowl rested, 
fought, and clucked, he still felt guilty and injured; 
he ought to have gone to the reception; ought to 
have done the job completely and properly. But he 
knew he could not have borne it. It had been bad 
enough seeing the backs of those two as they knelt 
at the altar, understanding what the attitude meant, 
seeing this shape in the black coat by the side of the 
bending neck, tidy that day, who had taken his 

415 



«X2> 



CALIBAN *3? 



woman. Yes, that had been bad enough. But to 
go to the unaccustomed house of some relative of 
hers, to stand in a crowd where everybody talked 
very loud and jostled and seemed indecently excited 
by the advertisement of sex . . . no, he couldn't do 
that. And he couldn't see them standing side by 
side, look her in the eyes, for she would be flushed 
and smiling; the man, too, pleased and self-conscious; 
and both of them with that awful air of relief that 
comes over the wedded when at last the ceremony 
has been performed and responsibility ends. No, 
he couldn't go up to him, shake hands, and smile 
vapidly. 

For a moment he thought of Houghton. It hurt 
him to feel no hatred. He had met him again, and 
one could not hate Houghton; his humorous mouth 
and his faintly bitter speech, his suggestion of re- 
serve, of withdrawn personality, made him popular. 
One liked Houghton. One didn't know why. 

Buhner thought: " After all, what does it matter 
whether I hate Houghton or not? What does it 
matter if I hate Janet or not? She's talked non- 
sense about always being my friend. Friendship!" 
He laughed. Friendship after love; what a black 
draught to drain after the rosy wine of emotion! 
"Well," he thought, "it's done. No more to be 
said," and turned. He felt very tired; he wanted 
to go home, to lie down. The heat was heavy and 
exhausted him. But, as he entered Mayfair, a dis- 
gust came over him of his big house, his vast lounge, 
the drawing-room, the big bathroom and its excess 
of comforts, like the showroom at Shanks's. He 
thought: "Fd better go to the club. A game of 

416 



^ CALIBAN *g 

bridge, perhaps." But he did not go to the club. 
As he went eastward he thought of sending for his 
car and for a while hiding at Bargo Court. The 
country? For a moment he aspired to the Shake- 
speare garden behind the east wing, to the great 
hollyhocks massed with pink cockades. But even 
as he remembered the old lavender bush with a 
stem as thick as his own wrist, as the rolling lawns, 
short and velvety, sent up to him a reminiscent, 
moist, earthy smell, he still made for the east. He 
went on through the Strand and along Fleet Street, 
like some wounded beast that makes for its natural 
den. 

He felt better in his private office. Moss had 
tact enough not to remark upon his abstracted mask. 
As the door closed Moss quietly disconnected the 
switch to the boss's telephone. He stared at the 
boss's door; he had been Bulmer's secretary for 
eighteen years, had grown up as the boss became 
middle-aged, and seen him triumphant, angry, ebul- 
lient, cordial, frank, and sly. Moss had been with 
him when he was sick; he knew all that Bulmer 
might have told him of Janet, of Houghton, of all 
the women who had helped Bulmer to waste a few 
weeks of his life. He knew the boss in every way, 
knew the look in his eyes when he was pleased, knew 
a day or so ahead when a fit of temper was coming; 
he knew how to stir him to action, and how to re- 
strain him. Bulmer unconsciously was his, for Moss 
was the perfect secretary. He had given himself 
to Bulmer as he had never given himself to the good- 
tempered, dark wife, with whom he lived happily 
in Hampstead. And, as he stared at the closed door, 

417 



°& CALIBAN « 

an almost uncontrollable desire came over Moss to 
rush in and put his arms round the boss's shoulders, 
to pet him and comfort him, as he did to his own 
small children when they fell and cut their knees. 

"It's a shame," he said aloud, as a flush rose in 
his dark cheeks. His soft eyes filled with rage be- 
cause the big, simple, obvious, generous creature 
that he loved was refused something by life. He 
thought: "There's nothing to be done. Nothing. 
One can't do anything that he wouldn't think was 
an impertinence. Very likely he'd like to die there, 
like the old elephants in the jungle. The only thing 
to be done is to go on, plod along with new stunts, 
cheer him up, and keep him going until some one 
else proves strong enough to capture him. She'll 
take some finding. But he's young yet. Forty-nine. 
There's life in him yet, and life's worth something." 
He smiled, and hummed the chorus that ran through 
every brain: 

Hullo! Hullo! Hullo, Life! Hullo! 
What's your answer? Cheerio! 
Hullo! Hullo! Hullo, Life! Hullo! 

Bulmer looked up from his desk with a startled 
expression. His senses, unnaturally vivid, perceived 
the song. His mouth took on a bitter curl; life, 
indeed! What the hell was the good of life? "What 
was the good of life to Robinson Crusoe," he won- 
dered, "until Man Friday came?" And he realized 
that Man Friday could not come to him. He'd put 
all his money on an idea, and it had blown away. 
Yes, of course, there were other things. He had 
wealth. He had power. And in such times power 

418 



"$ CALIBAN ^ 

was good, for the world was in chaos. For a moment 
he thought of the incredible shadow which was 
spreading over the earth, of Germans held down by 
the Allies, ready to leap up, jealous, ambitious, bring- 
ing about in the gang of nations the disorder that 
must arise when swag has to be shared and 
thieves fall out. To split the League of Nations, 
the complicated machine into whose works every 
financier, every diplomat, and, if he had anything 
to do with it, every journalist would throw a hand- 
ful of sand as he passed by. He saw the Poles 
grinding the Jews, the Czechoslovaks preparing to 
fight the Magyar, the Bolsheviks of Russia and 
Hungary spreading their doctrine as a stain of oil 
into Rumania and beyond. He saw Britain bub- 
bling with rage and unrest. On that day the miners 
of West Yorkshire were out, not only against the 
masters and the state, but against their own Fed- 
eration; the bakers, perhaps, were coming out; the 
police were striking in various parts. The air was 
full of strikes impending, strikes in progress, strikes 
settled. Settled? As well settle those as a wound 
by a bit of sticking-plaster that comes off. He sud- 
denly developed enough imagination to perceive an 
incredible future, to understand that rising wages 
meant rising prices, that profits and the spending 
thereof on the sterile labor of goldsmiths, on motor- 
cars, on footmen, would go on all the same. He 
realized the vicious circle, rising wages, and rising 
prices, and nobody any better off . . . only goaded 
by envy, exasperated by injustice. Like a bull at 
bay and frothing at the mouth, Labor would turn on 
society and destroy the present order, suppress 

419 



*8 CALIBAN % 

wages, suppress profits, reduce living to a decent 
level of barbarism, where the baker would barter 
his loaves for a length of cloth and once more men 
would bear arms. 

Revolution! the word tempted him. His personal 
anguish was so sharp that he desired the end of a 
society in which this anguish lived. Then he 
thought: " After all, what's it got to do with me? 
Society and all that? I am what I am; I'm alone, 
like most people. After my death Hettie and Ellie 
will appoint Alford to carry on. And Alford will 
give me a three-col. obituary. One slips into life 
easily enough, and one slips out. One's not missed. 
One's not missed because one doesn't hitch on to 
other people." 

He got up and went to the window. At two 
points of Ludgate Circus he saw small boys carry- 
ing the yellow placard of the Evening Gazette. He 
raised the sash higher and higher, and leaned out. 
Through the rumble of London he faintly heard the 
voice of the nearer boy: 

"G'zette! Speshul GPzettel" 

He stared at him. To-day's Gazette! There would 
be to-morrow's Gazette, and so on forever. The other 
thought was still on him; he said aloud: 

"One doesn't hitch on to anybody. One just 
messes about a bit in the middle of life, and life sails 
away." 

"G'zette, came the voice again, "speshul G'zette!" 



THE END 



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